Saturday, February 27, 2010

$#|+!!! I'm Not As Healthy As I Thought I Am

As you know, I'm thinking about getting term life insurance. As part of the application process, I'm supposed to undergo a blood test to see what rates I qualify. When I requested my quotes, I assumed I'm super healthy and used the "preferred rates" vs. "standard rates."

After all, although my weight has been steadily increasing the past couple of years (I'm currently 5'1" and 116 lbs), my BMI is 21.9, which is normal. My blood pressure is also generally good -- my systolic (upper number) is usually under 100 and my diastolic (lower number) is usually under 70.

I knew my waist-to-hip ratio wasn't all that great (I'm an avocado shape at 0.77 ratio), I didn't think this was a big deal since, again, my BMI is normal.

Although I do occasionally binge eat, I generally try to eat healthy. I've started incorporating more veggies into my diet and I take a multi-vitamin everyday.

The worst part of my lifestyle, though, is that I'm generally sedentary and rarely work out. I hate physical exertion, but since I'm not overweight, I figured my sedentary lifestyle is still okay.

Anyhow, I decided to go to my local pharmacy to get a cholesterol/blood glucose test for $25 before I submit my term life insurance application. I could've asked my primary physician to do the test under my health insurance plan, but I kind'a wanted to know what my numbers are before any insurance company does. I'm glad I did, since my numbers weren't as good as I thought they would be.

The Good
My total cholesterol was 188. The benchmark is to keep it under 200 mg/dl, so I'm good here.
My triglycerides was 101. The benchmark is less than 150 mg/dl.

The Ugly

My HDL ("Good Cholesterol") was 39. For women, the benchmark is greater than 50 mg/dl. 39 is considered "poor."

My LDL ("Bad Cholesterol") was 129. I'm supposed to keep it less than 100 mg/dl.

I guess I'm going to have to start exercising regularly and with greater intensity. Before, my only motivation to exercise was to lose weight. Now, it seems like my health is at risk. Oy gevalt!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Shopping for Term Life Insurance

I considered getting term life insurance about a year ago, but since I'm single, with no children and no mortgage, I concluded it wasn't necessary.

But my recent trip to visit my folks made me reconsider. Although my parents are currently living independent lives (despite my father's dementia), I now have serious doubts that this will continue indefinitely. Only God knows whether or when my father or my mother will suffer some illness that would substantially impair their ability to handle basic ADLs (Activities of Daily Living) such as bathing, dressing, transferring, eating, toileting, and continence.

My parents don't have long-term care insurance and I am still in the process of getting my parents qualified under Medicaid. I still haven't quantified my parents' assets or income, so I have no idea whether they would even qualify.

Anyhow, I've now come to the realization that I will be sharing the caretaking duties of my parents with my sister when my parents are disabled or incapable of caring for themselves. Should I die an untimely death, the responsibility will fall squarely and solely upon my sister. I don't think this is fair or right, so I've decided to buy term life insurance.

I am already getting 1x my yearly salary automatically from my employer and the beneficiary to that policy is my mother. In addition to that policy, I got quotes from for a $500,000, 30-year guaranteed level term policy.

Why 30 years? I don't expect my father to live that long, after all, the average life expectancy of a man over 65 with dementia is only 10.7 years. But I expect my mom to live well into her 90s. Members of her side of the family (and our ethnic group in general), live close to 100 years old. (Egads.)

Based upon a "preferred" rate class, A+ rated insurance company, my policy would run about $40/month. The quote already includes an accelerated death benefit rider (aka living benefits rider) where the policy will pay 50% or $250,000 (whichever is less), when I become terminally ill. If I added a waiver of premium rider (i.e., the premium is waived should I become totally disabled), my premium would run approximately $50/month.

I was also quoted a "Return of Premium" policy for $78.80/month or $104.17/month (with a waiver of premium rider). I think this is a bogus policy, a bit like giving the government an interest-free loan every year in exchange for getting a tax refund (but for 30 years!) And if I surrender the policy early, I may or may not get back some or all of the premiums I've paid. No thanks, I'd rather invest the $50 difference into my IRA.

I should be getting my application in the mail soon. Next, I'll need to see about getting myself some supplemental disability insurance. I already get 66.67% of my annual salary from my employer.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Update - Dealing With My Parents

Wow. Thank you all so much for the outpouring of support and understanding. It really means a lot to me and I'm touched. Although this may sound selfish, I find it somewhat comforting to know that other people are struggling with the same issues I am (and even worse).

Anyhow, my posts in the near term will focus primarily on issues dealing with my parents versus my own finances.

The past couple of weeks have made me want to slam my head into the wall. Not only is it bad enough that my mother allowed my father, who suffers from dementia, to drive, she's been allowing him to handle their finances. She says my father, in a fit of anger and paranoia, took away the handling of their finances from her years ago. Ever since then, she took a "not my problem" attitude and let my father do what he did despite knowing that his dementia was getting progressively worse. She blamed his belligerence and intransigence for her failure to intervene. Again, this is an example of my mother shirking her personal responsibilities and blaming others for her problems.

I'll post my mortifying discoveries in a future post.
pounding head

I recently took a couple of days off from work to visit my parents' to get some financial and personal housekeeping done. The airfare + car rental + gas cost me $500+. Joy.

Anyhow, here's an update stuff my sister and I've managed to address since my last post:

  1. I made copies of my parents' executed durable power of attorney and medical power of attorney and healthcare directive. My mother has made it clear with her actions and words that she has no intention of being my father's attorney-in-fact or agent. That means my sister and I have to step up to the plate.

  2. I took my father to see his primary doctor. Before the visit, I had my father sign a limited consent form that authorized his doctor to release his medical care information to my sister and me. I gave the doctor a copy of my father's consent form and a copy of his medical power of attorney. I specifically instructed the doctor and his staff that all future communications involving my father should be with my sister or me.

  3. I drove my father to the DMV to surrender his driver's license and to obtain a state-issued ID. During the visit, he also surrendered his license plate, where he would receive ~$54 back.

  4. I then drove my parents' to see their auto insurance agent. During the visit, my parents signed a proof of loss and other collision-loss related documents. Their insurance company agreed to cover the loss of my parents' car for $12,506.15 minus $500 deductible minus payoff of car loan (est. $6,000). Looks like my parents won't have to worry about paying back the car loan. The insurance company is also dealing with the PD claim to the brick wall/store sign that my father plowed into. This claim is still pending.

  5. Got my parents a Reduced Fare ID so they can take public transportation for 50% of the regular fare.

  6. Toured an adult daycare facility with my parents. I told my father that we are planning to send him to such a facility to give my mother some respite care and to give him some "stimulation" that he claims he is seriously lacking in his life. My father seemed okay with the idea but my mother was clearly displeased. I've estimated that the cost will run approximately $72/day, including food and transportation. My sister and I are still crunching numbers as to how much my parents can afford to cover this cost until he qualifies for Medicaid.

And this brings me to our To-Do List:

  1. Go through my parents' finances to determine their assets and liabilities and their monthly income. This will help us determine whether my parents will qualify for Medicaid.

  2. Schedule a physical for both my mother and father so that they will be ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) certified. Fill out ADA Service Eligibility application so that they will both get priority treatment when they use the Dial-A-Ride service.

  3. Schedule appointments with my father's pulmonary specialist and neurologist and give them copies of his medical power of attorney and authorization to contact my sister and me.

  4. Contact my parents' CPA and ask for copies of their past tax returns. If not, contact IRS. Verify whether my parents owe back taxes and/or penalties.

  5. Apply for Medicaid and Medicaid Long Term Care System. Medicare generally does not cover for long term care costs such as nursing homes or adult daycare. Medicaid is a State and Federal Government program that pays for some long-term care services at home and in the community. Who is eligible and what services are covered vary from state to state. Most often, eligibility is based on income and personal resources.

  6. Apply for state/community-based subsidized or free programs that encourage senior independent living, such as S.A.I.L.

  7. Apply for volunteer-based programs that provide free transportation.

I am currently resentful, angry, disappointed, frustrated and ultimately ashamed of my parents. Please be aware that I'm not feeling this way because they are helpless, poor or ill. I feel this way because they seem resigned and content to do nothing, assuming that my sister and I will take care of them if all goes to pot. They have absolutely no incentive or motivation to try to make things work. In a future post, I will reveal what my mother said to me recently, which made my blood boil and steam come out of my ears.

I really want to take a "not my problem" attitude that my mom was all too happy to take over the years. But I know the longer I ignore this and don't take control, things will only get worse. And my sister and I will have to clean up my parents' avalanche of a mess.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Drawing The Line In the Sand With My Parents

Sorry for the extended absence. I've been dealing with family issues. I am just very angry and frustrated right now. The day that I've always dreaded is upon me.

My father, who suffers from dementia, recently crashed and totaled his car. The good news: he only caused property damage and didn't kill or injure anyone. He's a bit bruised and scratched, but relatively unhurt.

The bad news: My parents still owe $7,000 on the car and it's totaled. Additionally, I'm worried that the insurance company will deny the claim based upon the fact that his physical impairments were never disclosed. I'm also concerned that Medicare won't cover all or some of his hospital stay.

Although my parents won't admit it, they are looking for a bail-out from my sister and me. And I'm not just talking about a financial bail-out. During this ordeal, my mother expected my sister, who now lives in a neighboring city (approx. 45 minutes away), to serve as her personal chauffeur, since she refuses to rent a car to drive herself around. My sister, as a result, has had to spend entire weekends and time off of work to deal with my parents' affairs, including, dealing with doctors, insurance company, the impound lot, etc.

When my sister and I asked my mother why she would allow my father to drive in his condition, she said he looked forward to driving on the weekends. He would have fought her attempts to prevent him from driving. She said he was beyond her control.

As you can expect, my mother does not take to my sister and my questioning her very kindly. She is very defensive and mired in self-pity. She refuses to take any responsibility for any of her failures, her lack of initiative, her lack of motivation, etc. A prime example of one of my mother's failure includes her refusal to learn to speak or write English fluently although she's lived in this country for 40 years. She blames this failure on her "sacrifice" for her family. She also blames her parents for "forcing" her to marry a "loser" like my dad. (I just find it difficult to believe that if she totally despised my father back then as she claims, she would have had two children with the man. But I digress.)

My mother complained of my father's lack of self-reliance. When I pointed our her hypocrisy, her emotions ran the gamut of anger, self-pity, defeatist and accusatory. Some of the things she said included:
  • "Oh, now I see you and your sister just want your dad and me dead!"
  • "Fine! I won't EVER ask you or your sister for help!" (I rolled my eyes with this one.)
  • "I've done NOTHING wrong in my life to deserve this!"
  • "I've sacrificed EVERYTHING for you girls and this is how you treat me!"
  • "I've done EVERYTHING to not burden you girls, and there's NOTHING more I can do."
  • "Don't you see that being a burden to you girls is tearing me apart?"
  • "I just pray for death everyday!"
After significant soul-searching, I've decided I am not going to enable them or bail them out. I told my mother that no one is happy with this situation. If she's unhappy knowing that she's a burden upon her children, how does she think my sister and I feel? There's no point in pretending the inevitable won't happen. Complaining, blaming and wallowing in self-pity is completely unhelpful. I told her that her defeatist attitude is pissing me off as well.

My sister and I agreed that we are going to make our father voluntarily relinquish his driver's license. He will no longer be allowed to drive. Hopefully, with this accident, my father will agree without a fuss.

My mother now claims she is "too scared" to drive. My parents live in the desert, which means that during the summer, it would be very difficult for them to get around without a car. I told my mother, "If you choose not to drive, that's your decision. But you shouldn't expect my sister to chauffeur you around." (Of course, my mother took offense to this.)

In the event that my parents' auto insurance denies their claim, my sister and I agreed that we will not pay off their car loan or any judgment from the property damage. My parents will need to file for bankruptcy and have their credit cards taken away.

I am also considering exercising my power of attorney and taking control of my parents' finances. For once, perhaps, my sister and I can force them to live within their means.

I'll be traveling back-and-forth to my parents' and I will be taking a break while my sister and I sort through my parents' affairs.
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.