Betting the Ranch

Since that's just what many Americans don't want to do, long-term-care insurance may be the next big issue for boomers

Gabriele Axthelm's sister was 49 and single when she had a stroke two years ago. Now paralyzed with permanent brain damage, she is in a nursing home that costs $4,600 a month. "We had to sell her house right away," says Axthelm. "We couldn't even rent it in case she got better." Alzheimer's has put her father in a care facility, and her mother, 80, lives in a retirement center. "They put away money for years," says Axthelm. "They are now living off their savings."

Such personal tragedy was what it took to get Axthelm, 53, and her husband Lynn, 57,...

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