America Entering the ‘Golden Age of Caregiving’

The U.S. has entered the ‘Golden Age of Caregiving’ with more family members becoming caregivers while taking care of their own families and living their own lives. Caregivers work 1.2 billion unpaid hours with over 53 million unpaid caregivers in the United States. Being prepared before retirement is vital.

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America Entering the ‘Golden Age of Caregiving’
3 Min Read August 23rd, 2015 Updated:May 13th, 2022

The country has changed a lot since 2015 when Emilio Zagheni, an assistant professor of sociology from the University of Washington Professor published his research where he said that America is in a "golden age" of caregiving. 

As the COVID-19 virus crisis places long-term health care front and center in the public's view, more families are aware of the consequences of declining health and aging.

Long-Term Care Not a New Issue

The problem of long-term health care, its costs, and its burdens on family caregivers are not new. But more adult children find themselves juggling their careers and families with the demanding job of being a caregiver for mom or dad. 

The 2015 research study, "Population and Development Review," reported that one-third of Americans are informal caregivers who put in 1.2 billion hours of work per week.

53 Million Unpaid Family Caregivers

The National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and AARP found that the number of family caregivers in the United States increased by 9.5 million from 2015 to 2020 and now encompasses more than 53 million Americans

The report, "Caregiving in the U.S. 2020," revealed that these family caregivers are suffering their own health problems due to their role, compared to five years ago. 

This extra work as a caregiver places emotional and physical burdens on the caregivers. However, it is also a financial strain since nobody is being paid for this work. 

Informal Family Caregivers Have Jobs and Families of Their Own

Many family caregivers must turn down overtime or job promotions due to caregiving. These family caregivers are usually also a spouse and a parent. That is a lot of responsibility to juggle. Many family caregivers feel overwhelmed and financially stained. The consequences are tremendous. 

The time people spend caring for older adults is like having 30 million people snatched right out of the workforce. The effect on the economy is intense. Zagheni estimates that in 2012, unpaid care accounted for about 5 percent of America's Gross Domestic Product, approximately $691 billion. Today that would be much larger.

There are two groups of informal caregivers. Spouses, who are generally older and have their personal health problems to address, and the adult children who are often labeled the "sandwich generation." 

Risk of Needing Long-Term Health Care Increases with Age

People require long-term health care services and supports due to an illness, accident, or the impact of aging. Declining health, mobility problems, and even frailty can create a need for a person to need help with daily living activities. As we get older, we also face a bigger risk of dementia which will require supervision. 

Part of the problem is many families think that health insurance or the government, through Medicare, will pay for all this care. Outside a limited number of days of skilled care, health insurance, Medicare and supplements will not pay for most long-term health care services. Medicaid will, but Medicaid requires the care recipient to have little or no income and assets. 

LTC Insurance Possible Solution

While more and more people purchase Long-Term Care Insurance as part of their retirement planning, many people don't think about it until their health changes. At that point, their insurance options are limited at best. 

The problem of caregiving and long-term care continues to grow as the population gets older, and advances in medical science allow us to all live longer and longer.

Another 1.3 million caregivers could be needed by 2050

Emilio Zagheni, an assistant professor of sociology

All of Us are Aging

Changes in public policy, employer flexibility, and more people taking advantage of Long-Term Care Insurance will help families deal with the problem of aging.

U.S. Surgeon General Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy, M.D., M.B.A. made aging an issue during the 2015 White House Conference on Aging.

All of us our aging no matter what age we are at, to be clear

U.S. Surgeon General and Vice Admiral, Vivek H. Murthy, M.D., M.B.A.,

The Surgeon General said talking to parents about these concerns is critical. He has done so himself.

The conversations we have had is how they can stay healthy and independent as they get older, recognizing they want to be part of their children's lives, but they don't want to be dependent on their kids for everything

Can't Be Dependent on Family Caregivers

Informal family caregivers are the first line of long-term health care, but they are untrained and unprepared for the job. Often families must resort to paying for expensive professional care. 

Families can go through thousands and thousands of dollars a month for professional care. Nursing homes are the most expensive, with the average cost running over $100,000 a year. However, most people will not need nursing homes but assisted living facilities and in-home care services are not cheap either. 

The LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator will show you the current and future cost of care services where you live, along with other state-specific information - Cost of Care Calculator - Choose Your State | LTC News.

The costs continue to jump each year due to the higher demand for care services, labor shortages in some areas, and higher labor costs. Add inflation and economic concerns, and the financial impact can be dramatic.

LTC Insurance Benefits are Guaranteed - Unlike Our Retirement Accounts

Families that own a Long-Term Care Insurance policy have guaranteed tax-free benefits they can rely on to pay for their choice of quality care services. Their assets, lifestyle, and legacy will be protected. But remember, the consequences for loved ones need to be considered. When someone has an LTC Insurance policy, their loved ones will have the time to be family instead of caregivers.

Most people obtain coverage in their 50s. Aging is a real thing, and the consequences of declining health and long-term health care impact everyone in the family. Ignoring the problem is not just a financial risk - it is tough on your family as well. 

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About the Author

An LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.

LTC News Contributor James Kelly

James Kelly

Contributor since August 21st, 2017

Editor's Note

There is a good chance you will need help with daily living activities or supervision due to dementia as you get older. Being prepared for the costs and burdens of aging will help ensure that you will have the ability to choose the quality care services you desire, including in-home care.

Long-term health care is both a cash flow problem and a family problem. Professional long-term health care services are expensive, and those costs are getting more expensive every year.

The fear of inflation and perhaps a recession will impact your retirement accounts. The guaranteed benefits of affordable Long-Term Care Insurance will build a wall around those assets and ensure your lifestyle and legacy.

Finances are important. The quality of your care is paramount. The desire to never burden your family might be as important as anything else. Caregiving is hard, and family caregivers are usually untrained and unprepared for a very demanding job.

Long-Term Care Insurance should be considered a vital part of your overall retirement plan. Most people obtain coverage in their 50s to take advantage of overall good health and lower premiums.

Seek Professional Help Planning for Long-Term Care

Experts recommend seeking the help of a qualified and experienced Long-Term Care Insurance specialist to help you find the right coverage. A specialist will match your age, health, and family history with the right coverage at the right price. 

Long-term care is a very specialized area, and few insurance agents and financial advisors have the expertise. Find a specialist who represents the top companies as premiums can vary over 100% between insurance companies. Leading specialists will often have over 500 clients with Long-Term Care Insurance.

A specialist will save you money, and you will have peace of mind knowing they are making the appropriate recommendations - Work With a Specialist | LTC News.

Planning Tools and Resources Available on LTC NEWS

Planning for the future is never easy, but long-term health care planning can be very complicated and comes with many emotions. Getting the right tools and resources will make the process much easier.

One of the goals is to reduce the stress and anxiety usually placed on your family at the time of crisis. LTC NEWS can be beneficial in providing you with important information for you to consider.

LTC NEWS has put in place several resources, including:

Find all the resources on LTC NEWS - Resources for Long-Term Care Planning | LTC News.

Need Help Now for Mom or Dad?

If your family is already in crisis and you need to find help for mom or dad, LTC NEWS can help. We have put together several comprehensive guides to help you in your process.

Start by reading our four guides -  

If your loved one is lucky enough to own a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, be sure they use it. Sometimes families wait, thinking they can save the benefits for a rainy day. Waiting on using available Long-Term Care Insurance benefits is not a wise idea. 

Get Assistance in Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim

Many insurance companies have issued Long-Term Care Insurance policies over the years. Filing a claim can sometimes be complicated unless you know what to do or get expert help and assistance. 

Don't allow the claim process to stop you from using the benefits available in an LTC policy. Quality care obtained early will help provide a better quality of life and reduce the risk of a deep decline and facility care. 

If you need help in starting the process of a Long-Term Care Insurance claim, LTC NEWS can help. LTC NEWS provides free assistance with no obligation to help you or a loved one complete the claims process with a Long-Term Care Insurance policy. We have teamed up with Amada Senior Care, who will do all the work - free with no obligation. 

Get help finding quality caregivers or long-term care facilities and get recommendations for a proper care plan, whether a person has a policy. - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim | LTC News

Advantages of Reverse Mortgages 

Today's reverse mortgages for those aged 62 and older could be an ideal resource to fund a Long-Term Care Insurance policy OR even provide money to pay for care if you, or a loved one, already needs help and assistance. You might be eligible at younger ages as well. 

Some people have much of their savings invested in their homes. With today's reverse mortgages, you can find ways to fund care solutions, care itself, and even help with cash flow during your retirement. 

Learn more by asking questions to an expert. Mike Banner, LTC NEWS columnist and host of the TV Show "62 Who Knew" will answer your questions regarding caregiving, aging, health, retirement planning, long-term care, and reverse mortgages. 

- Just "Ask Mike." - Reverse Mortgages | LTC News.

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LTC NEWS is open to contributors to share their stories with the world. 

You can write a story or ongoing column for LTC NEWS. You can write about many topics, including aging, caregiving, health, lifestyle, retirement planning, and long-term care, to name a few.

Be sure to write for our core target audience of adults aged 40 and older. Our audience is worldwide; however, our primary target is the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and other English-speaking nations. 

Improve your website or blog's SEO and gain exposure and traffic at the same time by being a contributor to LTC NEWS. 

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Email your story idea or article: - LTC News Contributors | LTC News

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There are various marketing options available with LTC NEWS. Traditional advertising, sponsored content articles, strategic alliances, and more are available. 

Learn more about how LTC NEWS can help you market your business, drive traffic, and improve SEO - Advertise With Us | LTC News.

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