Life is full of the unexpected, but that doesn’t always mean that you are forced to be reactive in handling unplanned life changes. In fact, there are plenty of opportunities to be proactive in preparing yourself for the unknown. In these situations, it is crucial to know which local resources are available should you ever need to call upon them for their expertise or assistance.
For business owners, any number of situations may arise that were unplanned and above all, appropriate insurance coverage is a must. There are several critical types of coverage for a company to consider thoroughly when discussing insurance with their agent: Co-insurance, Business Income with Extra Expense and Employment Practice Liability Insurance.
Co-insurance– A policy may contain a co-insurance provision requiring that the limits of insurance be a minimum percentage of the insurable value of your property. If the limits of your policy are less than what is required by this provision, then any claim payment made to you may be reduced by the same percentage as the deficiency. For example, covered property worth $100,000 may require a minimum of 80%, or $80,000, of coverage for compliance with the policy’s co-insurance requirement. If only $60,000 of coverage is carried (25% less than the required $80,000), then any loss payment would be reduced by 25%.
Business Income and Extra Expense– This coverage insures you against loss of business income (including any continuing normal operating expenses) that you experience because of a suspension of your business when insured property has been damaged by a covered peril. It also covers those necessary extra expenses you incur to operate your business during that period of time your damaged property is being repaired or replaced.
Employment Practice Liability Insurance– A relatively new form of liability insurance. It provides protection for an employer against claims made by employees, former employees, or potential employees. It covers discrimination (age, sex, race, disability, etc.), wrongful termination of employment, sexual harassment, and other employment-related allegations.
David Duff, a local Farm Bureau Financial Services agent, states, “In addition to business owners being adequately covered for the reasons indicated above, the most common issue I see for all types of individuals in my line of work is money shortage as a result of an unplanned life change. Some prime examples that come to mind are covering car repairs in an accident or the deductible that applies, the additional premium in health insurance, the additional savings necessary for retirement, life insurance that must be purchased, having a child unexpectedly—the list goes on and on. It is always a good idea to budget for not only your monthly purchases, but also to contribute to your savings instead of stretching yourself too thin. Often times planning for changes is where you see people fall short—it’s common for people to think there’s going to be enough money and that if something happens they are covered. My advice is that it is sometimes best to plan for the worst. If you plan for the worst and end up with anything better, whether dealing with money or time, you’ll always be ahead of the game. Furthermore, make sure you know the specifics of your insurance coverage so that you can plan and save accordingly. Not all insurance plans are created equal; there are a multitude of different options available. I pride myself in providing this information and education to my clients, and have found it to be extremely beneficial in dealing with unplanned changes effectively when they arise.”
While the saying “expect the unexpected” is a popular call to action; unfortunately, it is not as easy for some as for others. Dealing with unplanned life changes can be a very real challenge. Life changes can impact the way we operate in every facet of our lives. Many times people need professional help to get them through some of these unplanned life changes, such as job loss, loss of a loved one, aging parents and even mental illness in the family. These challenges may seem difficult to address or overcome, but help is available from many local professionals. Illness and injury can also be particularly traumatic for their unsuspecting victims, and being prepared to make decisions in dealing with something of this nature can alleviate a lot of stress.
Deb Maguire of High Plains Memory Care explains, “With a physical illness, the signs and symptoms are often visible to the person diagnosed as well as to their family members. They can see changes that are occurring and can often track a decline. However, a memory disorder may mask itself as ‘forgetfulness’ or be contributed to ‘old age’ for months or years before the client or family seeks guidance from a physician. By the time the client receives a diagnosis, the decline has already begun. When someone has Alzheimer’s or Dementia, their mood and behavior can change day to day or situation by situation. What may seem comfortable and familiar at one moment, may not feel the same as the day progresses. Our staff is trained to recognize these symptoms of the memory disorder and help to educate family members and our community on the many facets of change in memory caregiving. As an individual transitions into a memory care facility, the change in their environment and routine can potentially bring about a change in personality, behaviors, eating, and sleeping habits. To reduce these responses, we work very closely with the resident and their family to gather their unique life story. We discover what their likes and dislikes have been throughout life, what their ‘normal’ routine had been, as well as their tastes in music, favorite activities, family interactions, and what possessions they treasure. We focus on their remaining abilities instead of focusing on the limitations. We utilize our “Meaningful Moments” program which all staff and volunteers are trained in. Our focus is to recognize spontaneous moments to bring meaning and joy into their daily routine. Something as simple as sitting down to have a cup of coffee and visit with a resident can create a meaningful moment. Not only does that simple act allow for one on one time between a resident and a staff member, it gives the resident the chance to share a story and to benefit from hydration as well. Additionally, we provide education and training to families, other caregivers, and our community about the challenges and opportunities that an Alzheimer’s or Dementia diagnosis may bring. This also includes hosting events on and off site as needed in order to answer so many of the questions that these terminal illnesses present.”
Eric Haider, Administrator at The Waterford at College View, adds, “Getting older is a part of life that everyone can expect to experience for themselves. Some will plan to experience it with their parents and maybe even their grandparents. What a lot of people don’t plan for is a sudden illness or a fall that renders a person unable to care for themselves and they find that they are in need of more care than family can provide. This is when an unplanned life change happens. All kinds of decisions need to be made such as:
Do they need home health care?
Do they need an Assisted Living environment?
Do they need to be in a nursing home environment?
Do they need to have specialized skilled care?
This is the point at which we at The Waterford at College View can be of assistance to families. When we are approached by a family for information on our facility we make sure they feel they are welcomed and that they are in a home-like environment. We find out as much information about the person who needs care as we can in order to give them the best options for their care. Even if coming to our facility isn’t what is best for them, we still want to be able to guide them in the right direction.
We understand. We know how difficult an unplanned life change can be for the individual and for the family, so we do our best to make it easier. The Waterford Communities’ mission statement is ‘Enriching life’s journey by exceeding expectations through personalized holistic care.’ Part of living up to our mission statement is helping to make everyone comfortable with the changes they are going through whether they are planned or unplanned.”
Having a plan in place in the event of an unforeseen life change includes knowing who you can reach out to for information or assistance. For seniors and their families, Care Consultants for the Aging’s Home Care Registry and ElderCare Resource Handbook have helped thousands of people in Nebraska and Iowa with their eldercare needs.
The Home Care Registry (www.careconsultants.com/our-homecare.html) will help you find qualified caregivers to fit your home care needs.
The ElderCare Resource Handbook (www.careconsultants.com/resource-handbook.html) provides a complete listing of companies that provide services to seniors in the Lincoln, Omaha and Des Moines metro areas.
You can access these resources online via the websites listed, or you may utilize the direct links on the Care Consultants website, www.careconsultants.com. If you would like to purchase your own copy of the ElderCare Resource Handbook, you may do so for $7 per book at any of the three offices. The Lincoln office is located at 1530 S. 70th Street, Suite 202, Lincoln, NE 68506. If you would prefer to have one mailed to you, the cost is $10 per book. You may send them a check or order online with a credit card via the website.
Care Consultants understands that it is sometimes hard to ask for help, so their services are set up in a way that will get you the care you need. Their Home Care Registry has provided relief for so many, allowing care to be client-directed, while their ElderCare Resource Handbook has provided options for those trying to navigate the aging process. By understanding the services, resources and options which are available locally, it is the hope of Care Consultants that seniors and their families will be able to make informed decisions which have the potential to enhance their quality of life and independence.
Death is the ultimate unplanned life change, but it is also something that you can prepare for. Jodi Finch of Roper & Sons Funeral Services explains, “At Roper & Sons, we help people plan for ‘unplanned’ life changes. While we all know our time on earth is limited, we certainly cannot plan for the day or time. Whether illness, accident, or age brings us to the end of life, it definitely impacts our families and loved ones deeply, and is often one of the most difficult things they will ever face.
Again, while we can never plan fully for our passing, we can certainly ease some of the emotional and financial difficulties our loved ones will face. We encourage everyone to plan for their final wishes; in other words, exactly how they want their life to be celebrated and how they want to be remembered. Our recommendation is for everyone to contact one of our Family Services Counselors and spend some time going over a ‘Final Wishes Organizer’ with them. When you have made your final arrangements, you relieve your family of both emotional and financial burdens by putting your desires in writing, and making payment arrangements. Both of our Counselors are experienced, compassionate and knowledgeable, and stand at the ready to assist families in helping to plan and prepare for unplanned changes.”
Laurie McAdams, Family Service Representative at Butherus, Maser & Love Funeral Home, adds, “In the funeral industry, we know that life can change in a second. A cancer diagnosis, a sudden unexpected death from a heart attack, a car accident with no survivors. People don’t like to think about death. And yet, it is inevitable. Our culture has made the topic taboo. With all the medical miracles, we think that death won’t happen to us. Sooner or later we will all leave this planet. Families need to find a time to talk about unexpected life changes when there isn’t a crisis and the whole family can participate.
People prepare for many upcoming events in their lives. Brides start planning their weddings at least a year ahead of time. People prepare well in advance for their retirement. We have nine months to prepare to become parents. But they don’t want to prepare for a great send off on their last journey. Why not prepare for the inevitable, we all die.
When the family is sitting in an intensive care room is not the time to talk about whether your spouse would want to be put on life support. Husbands and wives talk about thousands of things that they hope for during their lives. But often, they never have a conversation about what they want for the ends of their lives. When a parent dies we often see their kids come in with no clue what Mom or Dad would have wanted for their funerals. Dad didn’t attend a church, but we still would want some sort of celebration of his life, where will we have it, who will officiate?
Families who have had a sudden illness occur, or lost a child or a spouse, suddenly usually feel differently about planning for life changes. They know it happens. For example, one of our clients who I will call ‘Cindy’ is 57 and yet she still remembers when her dad died when she was nine. She remembers all of the painful details. After a conversation at a lunch meeting, she decided it was time to take care of her arrangements. She came in and met with me and has her celebration of life planned, down to the songs she wants played. She doesn’t want her kids to have the painful memories that she has.
As another example from personal experience, I got a call from my husband at 2:30 in the afternoon on December 16, 2004. He said, ‘Honey, I’m going to stop and get the car washed so I’ll be a little late.’ The Lincoln Police Department called me at 3:15 and said I needed someone to drive me to the hospital. My husband’s co-workers said he walked his coffee mug to the car, came back in and slumped over. They called 911 but it was over. He was gone. Life can change on a dime, so do your loved ones a favor and plan for those unplanned life changes!”
While unplanned life changes can be for the best or for the worst, one thing is for sure; they can and will happen to anyone at any time. Some things in life may be very difficult to discuss or plan for but that doesn’t mean that they can be avoided by way of ignoring them. As a perfect example, it is estimated that 70% of Americans have no estate plan, which means most of us are not contemplating what to do with our assets and/or legacy upon death. Estate planning is something that can be done at any age, and is not only especially helpful in the event of an unplanned change that involved the death of a loved one, but can also provide invaluable peace of mind. Christine Vanderford of Vanderford & Associates, PC LLO advises, “It is important to have an estate plan that is flexible; that is always present and can grow with you over time. Planning ahead and making necessary arrangements in advance gives the people you have appointed access to crucial information about your personal wishes and preferences. Without a plan you can’t have your wishes carried out, and it is also crucial to have proper documentation outlining and supporting your plan. Without a documented plan in place, those you’ve appointed will have no idea what your wishes are so they won’t know how to help you in the way that you want. Every person should have, at minimum, a Last Will and Testament, a Durable Power of Attorney for Assets, and an Advance health care directive. The more sophisticated your assets and the more advanced your health, the more there will be a need for more documents to help record all aspects completely. In addition to those other documents above, it may be necessary to make some funeral arrangements ahead of time and even a financial plan on how your assets will be spent for your care. This includes how to spend down if necessary or how to spend to your assets more efficiently for your care. Why? You want to be in control of your decisions as much as possible. By planning for life’s unplanned changes, it takes the guesswork and a lot of stress out of the equation.” She adds, “A person that creates an estate plan should review their documents with their attorney every three years at the least and then, as you age, review annually to make sure your documents are set up as you still want them and to also get crucial updates as the law changes.”
Change is one of the aspects of life that can be particularly difficult but as a constant variable, we can always control how we respond to it. Being prepared to respond when a life change is unplanned is particularly valuable, and finding the right resources to help you with this will make all the difference in the world.