In Sickness and in Health - Long-term Care Costs Force Tough Choices

March 29, 2010

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Roberta and Alex had been married almost 40 years and looked forward to retiring — he was a college professor; she worked in communications — when Alex was diagnosed with early-stage dementia, and their plans suddenly changed.

Alex took early retirement, and Roberta started caring for him at home, spending about $1,000 a month on a variety of people to help him with various tasks. But as his dementia worsened, Alex soon needed fulltime adult day care while Roberta worked. Eighteen months later, following a medical emergency, Alex required skilled nursing care.

The Western Mass. couple found a nursing home without a waiting list, but Medicare covered only the first 100 days, and after that, Roberta began drawing on their savings at a clip of $7,500 per month. About $75,000 later, the stock market collapsed, and their retirement savings were cut in half. Now, with Alex’s condition worsening and their savings disappearing, Roberta began to wonder what would happen if something happened to her, too.

Roberta and Alex had been married almost 40 years and looked forward to retiring — he was a college professor; she worked in communications — when Alex was diagnosed with early-stage dementia, and their plans suddenly changed. Alex took early retirement, and Roberta started caring for him at home, spending about $1,000 a month on a variety of people to help him with various tasks. But as his dementia worsened, Alex soon needed fulltime adult day care while Roberta worked. Eighteen months later, following a medical emergency, Alex required skilled nursing care.

The Western Mass. couple found a nursing home without a waiting list, but Medicare covered only the first 100 days, and after that, Roberta began drawing on their savings at a clip of $7,500 per month. About $75,000 later, the stock market collapsed, and their retirement savings were cut in half. Now, with Alex’s condition worsening and their savings disappearing, Roberta began to wonder what would happen if something happened to her, too.

When she talked about the situation with Hyman Darling, an elderlaw attorney with Bacon Wilson, P.C. in Springfield, he offered her a suggestion that would allow her to care for Alex while protecting what savings they had left.

That suggestion was divorce.

by: Joseph Bednar

BusinessWest
March 29, 2010

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