Forever and Ever Amen

My last article “Goodbye in Her (or His) Eyes” was a little hard to read as it discussed situations in which a healthy spouse doesn’t stick around when the other spouse needs long-term care…either by choice or by death. Just a few days after it was published, I heard from an agent who has been using my materials for years. She is re-entering the long-term care insurance market after having to stay home with her brother for several years, because his wife left him after he received the diagnosis of ALS. So yeah, it happens.

This article is on a much happier note as we hear from Randy Travis in his much-loved song “Forever and Ever Amen.” These lyrics inspire images of a lifelong love that can only end when the journey on Planet Earth ends.

The couple that comes to my mind as I view those words are Vernon and Helen Duckett. They were childhood sweethearts who took and honored their wedding vows for over 50 years. They bought long-term care insurance from me in 1990 when they were 65 and 66. Helen insisted they buy it and poor Vernon just didn’t have much to say about it. He tells that story with his famous chuckle in the Life Foundation award video and in the Newsweek story. I went back to them when 100% home care and 5% compound inflation became available and they upgraded their benefits.

Helen later developed Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s. Because of her long-term care insurance benefits, Vernon loved golf and was able to continue to play almost every day for two years after dropping Helen off at an adult day care center. Later when she needed to be in a facility, he made sure it was the nicest one in the area.

He said their friends were constantly asking him how he could afford such great care for her. He said he told them he could afford it because 15 years ago a woman named Phyllis Shelton came to his house and sold him and his wife long-term care insurance. You know, we hear a lot about the number one buying reason for long-term care insurance is to protect assets. Mutual of Omaha released a LTC insurance buyer/non-buyer study that shows that on the first page. Well, that’s never been my experience. The hundreds of people I’ve sold policies to over the years are more concerned about taking care of their family. Let’s go back to the Duckett story and you will see what I mean.

Vernon went on to say that Helen was his most precious asset, not his money, and the fact that he could take care of her in the best way possible for the rest of her life meant more to him than any amount of money he could ever have.

When he called to tell me how pleased he was with Helen’s coverage, I asked him to write me a letter. I couldn’t have scripted it better myself:

A lifelong love, a forever and ever Amen love, no doubt.

But the most disturbing part of the Mutual of Omaha study is on p. 3. It says that 55% of the buyers contacted an agent, not the other way around. In fact, two of the non-buyers said:

“I’ve never had anybody sit me down like they do with other things and say this is something you should give serious consideration to. There are a lot of other things they give advice on, but I’ve never been approached about this.” (p. 3)

And this one is humorous but also sad because you know it’s true:

“When you turn 50, everyone starts to talk about colonoscopies. So you begin to think, oh my gosh, maybe I should make the appointment…and you do. Everyone around me who is 50 has taken care of this. So I don’t know…if [long-term care insurance] was pushed, then it would be a topic of conversation at 50-year-old’s birthday parties!” (p. 10)

Why is the market penetration for long-term care insurance STILL single digit? Because of the economy, or lack of training or lack of products? NO. Unfortunately, my profession (the financial services industry) is much at fault. We should be talking to everyone we know about planning for long-term care and that hasn’t happened, nor is it happening today. So I am committed to doing just THAT.

Many, many times I’ve said to people “I just need the opportunity to give you enough information to plan for long-term care. It’s your business what you do with the information but it’s my job to give it to you. Please let me do my job.” Very non-threatening.

Vernon Duckett went to Heaven just before his 90th birthday. He wanted his story to be used to help others. You can honor his memory by not only watching his video but sharing it with your family and friends and by showing it to groups to which you belong, so that more people can see what a difference planning for long-term care can make in a family’s life. . If you would like a free copy of my little book, The ABCs of Long-Term Care Insurance, please go to the Contact Us link and complete the short questionnaire, so I can send it to you and contact you to set up a time for a personal no-obligation consultation to learn more about you and make some customized recommendations. At the bottom of the questionnaire, please let me know if you prefer to receive it in print or also with an audio CD. Or, you can say you want it as an ebook.

Please plan for long-term care with your financial professional or with me. And remember, today there are many other ways to plan in addition to traditional long-term care insurance like the Ducketts had. You can plan with life insurance, annuities with no health questions, life settlements, home care packages and even with reverse mortgages. The most important thing is to PLAN. Your family will love you for it.

Phyllis Shelton

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