THE BLOG
09/26/2012 06:29 pm ET Updated Sep 27, 2012

So How You Doin'? How Y'all Doin'? Part 3: When It's Time to Disobey Your Parents to Take Care of Them

If we asked you, "Who was the King of the Cowboys?", most of you would probably answer Roy Rogers. But, did you know that Roy wasn't the first King of The Cowboys?

Do you remember The Wild Bill Hickok Show? It ran from 1951 to 1959, longer than the I Love Lucy show. An actor named Guy Madison played Marshall Hickok and his sidekick was Jingles, played by the well-loved Andy Devine. In 1951, T.V. Dial (the soap company) took a poll and wanted to find out who was the most popular on-screen cowboy of that year. Guy Madison as Marshall Hickok was voted "King of the Cowboys." He was the first!

Along with a Deputy Marshall certificate, Marshall Hickok was featured on Kellogg's Sugar Pops cereal. On the back of the box was his "Cowboy Code." One of them was "I will obey my parents. They DO know best." How times and economic conditions have changed from the 1950s until now!

The one thing I have seen over the years is that our parents are proud people. Because they came up "the hard way," many of them are set in their ways to the point of almost certain stubbornness in regard to change.

Remembering that our parents were the ones that bought homes, saved and put us through college (feats many of us still haven't learned to do), the times have changed significantly enough that we cannot obey that Cowboy Code of Marshall Hickok any longer. The time has come to disobey our parents and do what is necessary to take care of them!

In the past we have told you that Congress was trying to find ways to tax 401(k)s because there was $83 billion in untapped, untaxed funds. WE WERE WRONG! The actual amount is closer to $4.3 trillion, as reported in a January 2012 article in the Wall St Journal. Why would Congress do this? Simple! To raise money! These 401(k) plans represent billions of untaxed, untapped dollars.

Even though it would appear that our current economy is making a slow comeback, recent developments in the governments of Greece, Italy and France may affect the rest of the global economy once again.

According to Diane Sawyer's June 1st report on ABC news, the new jobs report and market downturn, all gains made this year have been lost, especially in 401(k) plans.

For most of us, our parents don't want to change their 401(k)s or whatever retirement plans they have. Unfortunately, the time has come for us to help them so they have enough funds for their retirement plans and goals.

One of these financial vehicles that can help is an annuity. To be precise, a fixed annuity will not lose funds, can provide a guaranteed income for life and be a welcome additional income to Social Security. As we are now living 20 to 30 years past retirement, it is easy to outlive our money if we do not have a good retirement plan.

For most of us that have a retirement plan that is older than 10 years, the cost of services combined with the economy and other factors are forcing us to update our goals.

One of the biggest changes in recent years is the cost for health care. These costs have increased at rates previously unheard of and in no way keeping in line with current retirement plans.

In a May 7, 2012 HuffPost article by Jeffrey Young, health care costs have even the wealthy worried:

...according to a new survey commissioned by Nationwide Financial and conducted by Harris Interactive, 46 percent of people 55 or older who have assets of at least $250,000 and plan to retire by 2020 say they are "terrified" that health care costs will foul up their retirement plans and 30 percent of those already retired reported the same anxiety.

Let us help you avoid this anxiety.

One of the best things ALL OF US should do is to get long-term care insurance. Long-term care insurance pays when we are expected to need help with our daily activities longer than three months. Care can be at home or in a facility. We could need help due to a physical problem such as a stroke or accident, or due to dementia or Alzheimer's.

Care that lasts longer than three months is typically not covered by traditional health insurance and Medicare, as these programs just pay for short-term recovery care that lasts a few weeks.

There has been so much confusion that Medicare will pay for long-term care that this statement has been added to the Social Security benefit estimate that we receive each year: "Medicare does not pay for long-term care, so you may want to consider options for private insurance."

Disability insurance pays to replace a portion of our income while we are working so we can pay our bills. It doesn't provide another $6,000 a month to hire caregivers.

If Medicaid pays, the state expects to get paid back at the death of the second spouse. This process is called estate recovery and is required by the federal government.

Long-term care insurance. It has a terrible name. People think of it as "nursing home" coverage, old people's insurance and worst of all think, "it will NEVER happen to me!" The name really should be changed to something like "Lifestyle Insurance," because if it is needed and you don't have it, your lifestyle will change -- forever!

"All of a sudden," "out of nowhere," "in an instant" and "in a heartbeat" are all phrases that mean your life, as you have known it, is changed forever. Those who have seen financial devastation wreak havoc on a family or seen or heard of some relatively younger person suddenly needing this type of care understand. Seeing all this and not believing it is possible for this to happen to them or their loved ones is called "Normalcy Bias," the disbelief that something could ever happen "to me."

The biggest problem is that people think needing long-term care is something that affects THEM. They don't even think about how it will affect their loved ones. What happens to a two-income family when one has to stop working to take care of a family member? It's usually the wife or daughter, and in many cases, a precious career is sacrificed to fulfill caregiving responsibilities.

Women are most affected by the lack of long-term care insurance. If a man gets sick, usually the woman takes care of him, and that is what he wants. Ask a woman if she wants her husband to take care of her, and often the answer is "NO"! Well, if that's true, who is going to take care of her? A daughter? Daughter-in-law? At what sacrifice to the caregiver's own family and career?

So, for those of us that have relatively healthy parents, it is more important than ever to get them to obtain long-term care insurance. Again, with that stubbornness, they most likely will tell you they don't want it. (That's code for they'd like it, but don't think they'll need it.) To help them break through this denial, ask when was the last time any of you heard a news report about someone having a stroke and needing years of care? When they can't think of such a story, say "That's right. It's common, so it isn't news."

If you have any idea that you might wind up responsible for the care of a parent who is in reasonably good health today, do something while insuring is an option, even if you have to pay the premium. It's much easier to come up with $200-$300 a month in premium than $6,000 a month to hire caregivers.

You're not worried because Medicaid will step in? There's a little known law in 30 states called "filial responsibility." Most people have never heard of it as it hasn't been seriously enforced. Look for that to change, as most states have faced budget shortfalls for the fifth year in a row. A son in Pennsylvania just had to come up with $93,000 to pay for his mother's care when Medicaid didn't approve her Medicaid application.

Besides our parents, the younger we are when we get this coverage, the less it will cost. Policies today provide more options available to stay home longer than ever before. In fact, only about 20% of long-term care insurance claimants wind up in a facility, according to a recent claims study. Most people stay at home the entire time they need care. Best of all, 40 states offer a Long-Term Care Partnership policy that allows policyholders to protect assets equal to benefits paid out if the insurance isn't enough and they have to apply for Medicaid.

Since 2011, baby boomers have been reaching retirement age at the staggering rate of 10,000 people per day. After talking with many baby boomers, the one thing all of us want is to remain in control of our individual lives and be mentally competent to make decisions for ourselves. Keeping independence and choice means being a private-pay patient. Long-term care insurance is the best tool to make that happen.

As Phyllis writes in her book, The ABCs of Long-Term Care Insurance, "Giving your family the financial support to deal with long-term care needs is one of the most meaningful things you will ever do for them."

We can help you. Contact us for information on protecting hard-earned savings - yours as well as your parents - from market downturns and extended health care, both of which spell doom for the gold ring of not outliving our money.

Sandy Harris is the President of The Harris Group, a national insurance services company, specializing in Long-Term Care insurance and financial security retirement planning. His website is www.TheHarrisInsuranceGroup.com.

Phyllis Shelton is the President of LTC Consultants, a 20 year old Nashville-based consulting company specializing in long-term care insurance consumer education and agent training. She is the author of The ABC's of Long-Term Care Insurance and her website is "http://www.GotLTCi.com"