Long-Term Care: Role of a Long-Term Care Specialist
Guest: Barbara Franklin – Long-term Care Specialist
Host: Sally Smith – Author/Resource literature on age-related disease and healthy aging
Sally Smith: Welcome to Age to Age. I’m Sally Smith. Let’s talk. Today, we are fortunate to have Barbara Franklin with us. Barbara is a long-term care specialist who is giving of her time to help us understand what she does better. I know, in this day and age, there have been so many developments. Now there are nursing homes, legal elder care, professionals who deal mainly with people getting older with legal issues. There’s this whole burgeoning field of people who deal with parts of the puzzle of people of living longer, mostly healthier, sometimes with dementia, sometimes not yet but want to have everything in place just in case. Among these terms is one that’s new to me, yours, long-term care specialist. What does that mean, Barbara?
Barbara Franklin: Well, Sally, you’re right. There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle. But the piece I look at, in particular, is care that is outside of the hospital. We all know what that entails. If you’re outside of the hospital, the care could be in your own home. It could be in an assisted living facility. It could be in a nursing home. So, we’re talking about care outside of the hospital. And my particular frame of reference, and my expertise, is in the area of how to pay for that care. What kinds of tools are available to plan ahead, and what kinds of tools are available to help people finance that, when and if they need it?
Sally Smith: And how did you get into this field? I mean, how does one become a long-term care specialist? Is that a certain program, or a certain interest?
Barbara Franklin: Well, Sally, I sort of backed into it. Eighteen years ago, I began working with long-term care insurance. It was little known at that time, but that helped me to, really, gain information about how people were paying for care. And I broadened long-term care insurance to the bigger picture of the government programs, the public programs, and the private sources that one would need. I realized, very early on, that long-term care insurance is a wonderful tool, an important tool, but is not for everyone. It doesn’t fit every situation. So, I wanted to have a broader array tools.
Sally Smith: And so, does someone come to you and say they want to have this certain lifestyle, some security and peace of mind going forward? Is that usually what generates your conversation, at an earlier age, before things get out of hand?
Barbara Franklin: There are a couple things, Sally. Many people that I talk to are referred to me by financial advisors, or other trusted advisors, and I’m asked to help them with that specific piece of their portfolio, long-term care planning. There are also people who have had a family experience with long-term care, and they have seen, up close and personal, what that means in terms of the emotional struggle, and the financial struggle. So, they’re looking to their own future, trying to figure out what they can do to avert putting that kind of burden on their family members.
In addition, we’re now finding that companies, businesses, organizations, are realizing the importance of long-term care issues in the workplace, people who need to leave work to take care of their loved ones, and they are implementing programs to help their employees. They’re offering, for instance, long-term care insurance. So, I might become involved in any one of those ways.
Sally Smith: You know, I think one thing, Barbara, that’s been such a learning experience for me, with the interviews that I’ve been lucky enough to do, is the huge toll, economically, not just on a family through lost income, or maybe even two lost incomes, where someone stays home to care for a loved one, so many issues, but one of them is the lost time in the workplace for the family, for the people who are worried about Mom, and her doctor’s appointment, and whatever. And maybe they live in Kansas, and maybe she lives in South Carolina. There are so many work hours of lost productivity for the American people. They say when it gets to be an economic issue and goes to the boardroom, somebody’s really paying attention. So, it must be a pretty big deal.
Barbara Franklin: Exactly. It is, Sally. I’m approached by companies that want to address this issue. Organizations like the AARP, and others, have documented those productivity losses. And I think as time goes on, we will only see more of that.
Sally Smith: Well, when you’re talking to someone about this, say I’ve been sent by my financial advisor and tell you it’s been suggested that you might help me get myself some ongoing security, what do you ask me? What do you need to know, and how do you assess what I need?
Barbara Franklin: Sure. Like any professional, Sally, we want to look at a bigger picture that surrounds this issue of long-term care. So, we’ll look, for instance, at family circumstances, and we ask people to project into the future how they would like to be care for, if they needed care. For instance, do they have any family in the area? If they do have family, would they be in a position to care for them? Do their families work? We, of course, look at financial circumstances, what kind of income might be available, what kind of savings and investments?
In addition to how much, it’s how you project being able to use those funds, do you have them projected for other uses? Will they be available for long-term care? Are they liquid assets? If it’s property, are you going to be able to sell that property, or a business? We look at desired lifestyle too. Would a person prefer to be in a continuing care retirement community? Would they prefer to be in their own home? Those are going to be factors that will have an impact on how they plan.
Sally Smith: Do many people self-insure?
Barbara Franklin: Well, they self-insure, Sally, but only by default.
Sally Smith: By default.
Barbara Franklin: They self-insure because they haven’t done anything else. They find themselves in the middle of a crisis. When they realize that Medicare and Medicaid, which really weren’t designed to provide for long-term care, for most people, they end up paying out of their own pockets. But it wasn’t, really, what they would have done if they’d thought about it ahead of time.
Sally Smith: Wow. What a fascinating field to be in, and helpful to a lot of people.
Barbara Franklin: Yes, it is.
Sally Smith: Thank you so much, Barbara, for sharing that with us today.
Barbara Franklin: Thank you, Sally.
Sally Smith: Thanks to all our listeners for joining us. We welcome your suggestions, as always. This is Sally Smith, Age to Age, saying goodbye and wishing you courage and joy on your own journey. We are all connected.
If you enjoy listening to Sally Smith, you can buy her book, The Circle. It’s the story of how she personally responded to her mother’s journey with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a wonderful gift of hope for anyone with a parent with dementia. Just click on Sally Smith’s name under the Health Professionals tab on the Podcast home page. All profits support research at the Center on Aging. Thanks.