Major Health Issue

When a Major Health Blow Strikes a Family

Don’t try to shoulder the burden by yourself

Key Takeways

  • When a serious, long-term health issue strikes a family, too many spouses try to shoulder the burden by themselves.
  • Even when close friends and family try to pitch in, life quickly becomes physically and emotionally overwhelming for the spouse.
  • Fortunately, your advisor can help you and your loved ones put a team together to help you through this very difficult transition in your life.

Life is rarely fair or predictable. And that sure comes into play when your family’s health is at stake. Things can change in a flash, and the most important thing to remember is that when a crisis hits, you’re not alone. Let me share an example.

A few days ago, my wife and I were talking about an acquaintance who recently went through a major health crisis. This unfortunate gentlemen went to the hospital for minor surgery. He had anesthesia, was sedated for about half an hour, came back out, and went home shortly after the procedure. So far so good.

About a week after the surgery, however, he started exhibiting strange symptoms. For instance, he believed he still owned the business that he had sold ten years earlier. He started getting angry and abusive with his wife–to the point she had to call 911 for assistance. After things settled down, the gentleman’s son came by, took him to the hospital, and discovered he had permanent brain damage. Somehow there was a reaction between the hospital meds and another common drug he was taking that gave him permanent dementia.

Long story short, the gentleman is now in a nursing home, and can never come back home.

A painful new chapter in life

Now this is a major crisis for the gentleman’s family and especially for his spouse. She wants to spend time with her husband. But, on top of her normal responsibilities, she now has to deal with all of the things that her husband used to handle—typically things that she’s not familiar with, including money issues.

Talk about stress!

A living death

The natural reaction in this situation is to reach out to family and friends first. So, the spouse enlisted her son initially. I don’t know how well it’s going, but I’m sure it’s a very difficult situation. In many ways this kind of transition is akin to a “living death.” You don’t really have your spouse anymore emotionally or intellectually, but you still have him physically. You have to help him through life’s most mundane tasks and try to stay connected to him even though he’s not sure what’s going on in the world.

You have the constant tug between wanting to be with your spouse and wanting to keep your household intact. It becomes overwhelming and stressful for many. Even routine tasks like paying bills or getting the laundry become much more difficult. Then there are the huge costs of nursing home care, related insurance coverage issues and making sure the family doesn’t run out of money.

Financial triage

Everything that was put in place suddenly changes and there really needs to be some really resemblance of order. Many times when folks in a family health crisis come to see us, we’re already in what I call a “financial triage” situation. We’re just trying to help the spouse get through the basics. Once the simple tasks are covered and new routines are in place, you can work on the longer term issues and get the family down the road with more confidence.

If you know of anyone with a family health crisis that could use some help, please have them give us a call. Major health changes can be very long and difficult transitions for spouses, families and all those close to them. They’re trying to provide all the support they can both financial and personal. It’s a very difficult situation, yet another powerful example of money effecting life and life affecting money.

See you next time, Gary.

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Contact Gary at 1-800-480-7913 or Send him your response, query or comment to


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