This post originally appeared on MainStreet.
When Dennis Healy’s mother-in-law was diagnosed with a progressive lung disease that left her home-bound, he found himself in the middle of a major family dilemma unsure of what to do.
“Most of us know our parents may need help someday but we’re never quite prepared when that day comes,” Healy said.
Providing care for an aging family member is now the number one family-related legal concern, according to new research. ARAG found that the level of concern is up 5% since last tracked in 2007 about the fact that 70% of people will need some form of long term care at some point in their lives while 65.7 million people in the U.S. were unpaid family caregivers to an adult or child in 2009.
Healy contacted a patient advocate through his legal plan at work.
“The advocate was able to walk through the situation with us and set expectations,” Healy said. “The family regained some control once they knew what options they had. Talking about possible scenarios in advance can help ease stress and ensures that everyone knows the options.”
Caregiving legal plans can be a low-cost way to prepare for a long-term care event for yourself or for your parent. Typically available as an employee benefit, plan members have access to patient advocates at an affordable rate which can help minimize stress and provide a greater sense of control.
Families may want to take proactive measures like learning about options that provide assistance in these situations. Long-term care insurance which pays for long-term care is more difficult to find and often very expensive. Some companies combine life insurance with long-term care insurance, but the benefit paid depends on what is needed. For example, Prudential introduced a new rider that allows PruLife Universal Protector policy holders to use the death benefit to cover costs associated with a chronic or terminal illness.