Olympic Gold Medalist Wendy Boglioli, who competed in the 1976 Montreal games and won a gold and a bronze in swimming, has been a spokesperson for long-term care insurer Genworth for the last seven years.
At 57, the daughter of a 91-year-old mother, Boglioli speaks from experience. Last year when I talked to Boglioli, she and her six brothers and sisters were trying to keep their mother at home in her own house in Wisconsin. A year later, they've given up on that idea and moved their mom into a nursing home.
Their mother needs constant care and keeping her at home was costing about $15,000 a month, more than the family could think about spending, Boglioli says. The nursing home is still costing the family $8,300 a month -- about $100,000 a year -- split among seven children. "And that's in a little town in Wisconsin," she says.
Genworth did a recent survey of attitudes toward long-term care and retirement planning. One of the most unsettling of the findings was the answer to this question. Read it carefully if you were hoping your kids were going to step up.
In the event that someone you knew were to require long-term care but could not afford professional care, would you be willing to quit your job, work less or devote a majority of your time to become the primary caregiver?
The answer: 58 percent said -- flatly -- NO.
So if you have vague ideas about what will happen when you are living in retirement and get old and frail, Boglioli says now is the time to clarify your situation. In fact, she thinks the Thanksgiving meal is a better time than most to initiate this conversation:
"You can start out with something like, 'How about Aunt Millie? How's she doing in assisted living?' And then you can transfer it over. 'If something like that happens to you, what are you going to do about it?'" she says.
This is a particularly serious issue for women. The Alzheimer's Association says 43 percent of people 85 and older suffer from the ailment, and two-thirds of the people 85 and older are women. Boglioli says 50 percent of the long-term care claims received by Genworth are for people suffering from Alzheimer's.
Boglioli is right. We all need a plan -- one we've put in writing and one that we know how to pay for.