November is Long-Term-Care Awareness Month – and the timing couldn't be better. Throughout the holiday season, families gather to celebrate. This family-focused time also presents an ideal opportunity for families to share their plans for an extended-care event.

Due to advances in medical technology and healthcare, people are living longer than ever before. In fact, 10,000 Baby Boomers are turning age 65 every day – something that will continue every day for the next 15 years. The government predicts that 70 percent of people over 65 will need long-term care for some period, so it’s likely it could happen to you.

What role will families play in future caregiving? The traditional family, which once included built-in care for elders, is fast becoming obsolete. Today, it is common for adult children to reside in locations far from their aging parents.

Caregiving can also take a physical, emotional and financial toll on loved ones. Caregivers have been found to experience double the usual rate of depression, and have increased stress and conflict between family members. Providing care can physically wear down an otherwise healthy family member. Last, but not least, bringing in professionals can help relieve the burden, but it will have a financial impact. Consider this: in the Mauston Area 44 hours of home care averages more than $20 per hour – or nearly $50,000 per year. A private room in a nursing home can cost even more, at $90,000 per year. With care events averaging three years, what impact could an extended-care event have on retirement plans, or on your family?

During National Long-Term-Care Awareness Month, we urge everyone to begin discussing their wishes for probable future care. Decide who will provide the care, and how it will be paid. Talk to a financial planner or insurance professional to make an informed decision on whether long-term-care insurance should be part of your planning. They can share information on the limited role the government may play in providing resources, and offer alternatives only available if you plan ahead.

Remember, a failure to plan is a plan for failure.

Elwood Syverson, Mauston

Rural Insurance/Farm Bureau Financial