Making a Choice You Don’t Like

Most of us have been forced to make a decision we didn’t like. I think for many of us, that decision often has something to do with limited funds. Health care decisions, unfortunately, can involve those same decisions—particularly when it comes to long term care.

As I say in my workshops, planning for potential long-term care issues is about choosing the care you want and that you can afford. I recently heard about a situation of someone who did not take that thought to heart (we’ll call him was John Smith).

When I got involved, John had a severe illness that required full time care. John was living at home and still had most of his funds, about $500,000. John was hiring caregivers for 24/7 care. That’s over $200,000 per year. Obviously, John’s funds weren’t going to last long. I made a plan to get John into a nursing home while still protecting about half of John’s funds in a trust. John was very reluctant. I think all of us understand that feeling, if we had a choice I think all of us would choose to live at home, the place we are comfortable.

But John wasn’t just reluctant about moving to a nursing home.

John genuinely believed he was going to get better, or his money situation would somehow magically change. I’m a big believer that attitude and mindset have a huge bearing on illness. But long-term care planning isn’t about planning for the best-case scenario—it’s planning for the worst and hoping you don’t need it. If all of us planned for the best-case scenario—none of us would need long term care planning. The unfortunate reality is most of us (about 65%) WILL need long term care. Nonetheless, I convinced John to try the nursing home. Less than one week in the nursing home, John decided to go home. Now, this nursing home wasn’t the best one around, but it was a far cry from the worst one. John went home and resumed 24/7 in home care.

John’s money recently ran out.

With no money left to pay caregivers or entice a decent nursing home into taking him, John is now in one of the worst nursing homes in the area. One that has been cited multiple times for nursing home code violations. This is something was so avoidable. True, John would have had a year longer living in a situation that was not as good as living at home. But he would have had a situation that was tolerable and comfortable with money left over to make his quality of life what he wanted it to be. Now, he not only lives in one of the worst places to live, but with no extra money to make it better in any way.

So please, when you think about your goals for the future, please face your financial limits and make choices you can live with.