Remember the 3-legged race? It is (or was) a popular activity at family gatherings or backyard fun. You and your partner tie your inside legs together so that the two of you now have “three” legs to run the race, competing with the other 3-legged teams. Although the game itself is about being the first to cross the finish line, it’s just as much a lesson in working together and supporting your partner. Obviously, when we were children, this cooperation and support aspect would never have crossed our minds. But as we age, we become more aware of the value of a support system.
Normally, our support system consists of family, friends and loved ones. However, when we lose our independence and need supervision—whether that’s due to a cognitive impairment, or we require help with our activities or daily living—most of us would like our family to be spared the necessity of bearing this burden solely on their own shoulders.
After all, family caregiving is not very glamorous. Most caregivers are also, in effect, employees. This extra (most often unpaid) job, averaging as many as 30 hours per week, results in a huge emotional, physical, and sometimes financial toll on the caregiver and the caregiver’s family. We would not knowingly subject our family to this.
That’s why Long Term Care Planning is such an important part of anyone’s overall financial plan. It’s a process in which a long-term-care specialist will work with us, helping find the best plan to enable us to transfer the risk (that we’ll need care). Taking this step now will make a huge difference when the need arises—it means that our family will be able to maintain the normal “support” role, rather than become our hands-on caregiver.
Think of the 3-Legged Race as a valuable life lesson; when one partner falls, the other picks them up. It’s good to have someone pick you up when you fall, no matter where you are in your life. When you lose your independence, your ability to take care of yourself— having a PLAN to “pick you up” takes on a whole different meaning. Do YOU have a PLAN?