Being a witness to a parent with dementia is one of the toughest things adult children have to deal with as their parents get older. Seeing your parent who you saw as being strong - that you depended on for so many years when you were younger - becoming dependent on others is overwhelming for most people.
When a parent has dementia, one of the adult children, often a daughter or daughter-in-law, must step in when there are no other options for caregiving. The role of a family caregiver can be the equivalent of a full-time job and is much more demanding due to the emotional ties and the physical demands.
A family crisis has begun. The family will usually have to assist with everyday household tasks and provide personal care and necessary medical-related services like medication management.
"Even in the early stages of the disease, we confront the vulnerability of someone who at one time we viewed as strong and powerful. The emotional consequences for adult children can seem endless and overwhelming," said Dr. Tamara McClintock Greenberg Psy.D., writing in Psychology Today.
However, when both parents have dementia, the problem becomes even worse. Double the responsibility and double the pressure.
"I've seen a number of adult children that have not one but two parents with dementia," said Dr. Daniel I. Kaufer, a neurologist and director of the memory disorders program at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, quoted in a New York Times story on this subject in 2007.
Dr. Kaufer passed away in June of 2020 but his words and his work are still remembered.
The Perfect Storm
Dr. Kaufer told the New York Times that the sheer numbers of people developing dementia, the problem of two living parents with dementia will happen more often. He calls it "the double-parent dementia dilemma."
"It's like the perfect storm of dementia care," Dr. Kaufer said.
Most family caregivers of loved ones with dementia struggle every day making sure their parent is safe, supervised and cared for properly. When adult children become caregivers, the job is overwhelmingly demanding physically and emotionally. It sure can be a dilemma if a loved one is responsible for both parents.
If you read social media, you will see posts from family caregivers talking about the pressures and burdens that their families face when a parent must deal with being dependent on their family.
The Crisis Impacts Everyone
While some people have professional help either funded by Long-Term Care Insurance or self-funded from personal income and assets, many families find themselves in crisis since their parents didn't think about planning or decided they didn't need Long-Term Care Insurance.
Health insurance or Medicare will not be helpful as they will pay for a limited amount of skilled long-term care services. However, most long-term care services help with daily living activities or supervision for Alzheimer's or other type of dementia. Health insurance and Medicare won't pay for any of that care. Medicaid will pay if the care recipient has little or no income and assets. You can only purchase Long-Term Care Insurance when you have reasonably good health, and policies are usually purchased in your 50s.
Without a plan in place, adult children become caregivers despite being untrained and unprepared for the job. Family caregivers must juggle all their responsibilities and learn to cope with the physical and emotional demands placed on them.
Seeking Help to Cope
Carol Bradley Bursack, an author, columnist, consultant, and speaker, writes on agingcare.com that asking for help is key to coping. Bursack says to seek support from caregivers who have "felt what you are feeling and will not judge you for it." She writes that you should get professional help and suggest starting with the local Area Agency on Aging.
Getting help is essential for the caregiver and their family. Bursack writes that over thirty percent of caregivers die before the care recipient. She points out that some of these family caregivers are lonely, depressed, isolated, frustrated, and often torn by guilt.
"These caregivers can develop cancer, commit suicide, or have heart problems and other ill health that can likely be traced to the stress of caring for their loved ones," Bursack writes.
The Alzheimer's Association does not track the number of couples where both partners have dementia. Some doctors think that the added stress of caregivers might accelerate the decline of the second spouse.
Being Prepared Now Will Avoid Crisis in the Future
Perhaps the best way to avoid placing this stress on your family is preparation. However, too many people put off the discussion of Long-Term Care Insurance because they think they are too young to obtain coverage, or they wrongly believe it is too expensive.
However, if you are in a crisis right now, what do? How do you provide the quality care your parents deserve? For many people, their home is the source of most of their assets. A reverse mortgage could be an option to fund some in-home care to reduce the stress on the family.
"I can't even imagine the stress on a family if both parents have dementia.
That being said, the option of having them remain in their home, in surroundings they are familiar with, could play a huge role in maintaining their quality of life," said Mike Banner, host of the TV Show "62 Who Knew" and an expert on long-term care planning.
Banner suggests that a reverse mortgage can pay off the existing debt on your parent's home. However, it can fund in-home care as well.
"By securing a line of credit to pay for high-quality in-home care, the funds could keep them in the comfort of their own home indefinitely," Banner said.
Banner says that at least your parents can stay in their home until there is an absolute necessity of them moving to a long-term care facility. Banner will answer questions about reverse mortgages, long-term care planning, and aging - just "Ask Mike" on LTC NEWS by clicking here.
Longevity and Dementia Go Hand in Hand
As the world becomes older and lifespans continue to grow, the need to think about dementia and other aging-related long-term health care needs becomes a crucial part of retirement planning.
Many surveys show people want to limit the burden placed on their adult children as they get older. Long-Term Care Insurance is one way to address both the financial and emotional burdens long-term care places on you and your family.
Most people obtain Long-Term Care Insurance coverage in their 50s. You might become a caregiver for your parents if you are not doing so right now. What about you and your family? Will you address the problem differently? Will there be a different outcome?
About the Author
Linda is a freelance writer interested in retirement planning, health and aging.
Contributor since October 31st, 2017
People need long-term health care services for many reasons, not just dementia. Whether we have mobility problems, health or aging issues, or dementia, long-term health care is expensive and a burden on family members.
The time to prepare for the costs and burdens of aging is when we are younger and still enjoy good health. Most people want to avoid a family crisis when they get older. Few would want to burden their adult children when better options are available.
For anyone with savings, a Long-Term Care Insurance policy can be an affordable solution. LTC Insurance is custom designed so you and a specialist can determine the appropriate amount of benefits based on your budget and your needs.
Most Long-Term Care Insurance claims are for in-home care, and most claims start at home. In 2021 the top insurance companies paid over $12.3 Billion in Long-Term Care Insurance benefits.
Keep in mind; however, you cannot buy a policy when you need it as these policies are medically underwritten. Don't assume you cannot qualify. Seek the help of a qualified specialist who works with the top companies to help match you with the best company. Underwriting criteria, and premiums, vary dramatically between insurance companies.
Most people obtain Long-Term Care Insurance coverage in their 50s.
Find Quality Caregivers and Long-Term Care Facilities
If your parent or loved one needs care now - or soon - you will need to find the appropriate care in the right setting depending on their needs.
Take a moment and read -
Get Expert Help Filing an LTC Insurance Claim
LTC NEWS provides free assistance with no obligation to help you or a loved one complete the claims process with your Long-Term Care Insurance policy.
You can also get support in finding quality caregivers and get recommendations for a proper care plan, whether a person has a policy or not. - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim | LTC News.
Benefits 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.
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, even help with cash flow during your retirement.
Learn more by asking questions to an expert. 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.
Planning Tools and Resources on LTC NEWS
You can find many tools and resources on LTC NEWS to assist you in your research for a planning solution or help your family find the appropriate care for a loved one at the time of crisis.
To help you plan for the future costs and burdens of changing health and aging, LTC NEWS has put in place several resources, including:
- The Ultimate Long-Term Care Guide is an outstanding read to help you get a good overview of the topic area.
- Compare the major insurance companies that offer Long-Term Care Insurance products here - Top Insurers for Long-Term Care Insurance | LTC News.
- A detailed tax guide that includes available tax incentives can be found by reviewing the Long-Term Care Tax Benefits Guide.
Find all the resources on LTC NEWS - Resources for Long-Term Care Planning | LTC News.
Seek Professional Guidance
Insurance rates are regulated, so no insurance agent, agency, or financial advisor can give you special deals. However, premiums do vary over 100% between insurance companies for the same coverage.
Experts suggest using a qualified Long-Term Care Insurance specialist to help you navigate the many options available to you and your family.
A specialist who works with the top companies can match your age, health, family history, and other factors and find you the best coverage at the best value. 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.
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