On July 4, 1939, Lou Gehrig addressed Yankees fans one last time in a moving speech from Yankee Stadium. Although the purpose of his speech was to say goodbye, he opened by saying, “Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth.”
Gehrig earned the nickname The Iron Horse by playing in 2,130 consecutive games, a record that stood for almost 60 years. He was the definition of dependable, winding up with a lifetime batting average of .340 by the time he called it quits.
But without warning, in 1938, his performance seemed a little off. Hits were down, strikeouts were up, and power numbers slipped. By 1939, he was only able to play in eight games. Less than two years later, Gehrig died from ALS, now known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, at the age of 37.
I usually encourage readers to plan ahead, but I’ve been around long enough to know you can’t plan for everything. Who could have predicted The Iron Horse would be dead at 37, only two years after playing in his last major league baseball game?
Short of death, one of the most devastating things that could ever hit a family is the sudden need for long-term care. From a financial perspective, the need for long-term care can devastate a family’s stability even more than death. The average price of a nursing home in Arkansas is around $6,000 per month; very few families have the monthly income to cash flow something like that.
There is hope, even for those who fail to plan ahead for long-term care expenses. For most families, with the proper guidance, Medicaid benefits will cover a large percentage of the nursing home costs. And contrary to most people’s thinking, they can qualify without having to spend every last dime on care first. They can also protect their home, if they know what they are doing.
The worst thing to do is to simply private pay the nursing home charges until the money is almost gone. But that’s exactly what most families think they’re supposed to do! Even when the need for long-term care hits out of the blue, the quicker you act, the more you can protect. Even when there’s not time to plan ahead, do not let a member of your family private pay for long-term care without first speaking with me or one of the attorneys at my firm to make sure they’re taking advantage of every possible benefit available.