A national survey published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports on a growing mental health crisis facing America's family caregivers. As more family families face a loved one, often a parent or spouse, who requires long-term health care, family members face the unplanned role of being a caregiver.
With the COVID-19 virus crisis adding additional pressure and anxiety on family caregivers, being a caregiver today is not easy.
The need for long-term health care services is increasing due to ongoing chronic illness, accidents, or the consequences of longevity. Many older loved ones need help with daily living activities and even supervision due to dementia.
Since many families have not planned for the future costs and related burdens of long-term health care, a family crisis occurs. A family member, often a daughter or daughter-in-law, becomes the primary caregiver if limited funds or no Long-Term Care Insurance is available to pay for care.
Some Caregivers Have Suicidal Thoughts
The role of being a caregiver is mentally and physically exhausting. The CDC report says 32.9% of caregivers had reported substantial mental health difficulties like anxiety, depression, or substance abuse compared to only 6.3% of non-caregivers.
The CDC study also found that 30.7% of these family caregivers of older adults experienced the highest rates of suicidal thoughts. This number is considerably higher than other high-risk groups like essential workers.
The COVID-19 crisis has increased this stress as caregivers must be concerned about virus infection while providing care. This increased stress level added to the usual physical and emotional demands of being a caregiver is very hard on family caregivers.
Plus, many family caregivers attempt to juggle other responsibilities while providing care. Almost 61% of these family caregivers also work full time, not to mention their family responsibilities that don't go away when in a caregiver's role.
"We don't really know how many people go from suicide ideation onto suicide," said Rajeev Ramchand, senior consultant for epidemiology and suicide prevention at the National Institute of Mental Health, quoted by the AARP.
Ramchand says even thoughts about harming oneself suggest a significant level of despair and distress. He says this can be indicative of future a future suicide attempt.
Role of Family Caregiver Has Always Been Hard – Worse Now Due to COVID-19
"Caregiving is hard in the best of times. Everyone is aware of that. I think the compounding effect of the pandemic is making the job more physically, emotionally, and financially difficult," according to Heidi Donovan, co-director of the National Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Family Support at the University of Pittsburgh.
The CDC report shows that most unpaid family caregivers indicate they had little choice in becoming caregivers. Half of these family caregivers say they are very stressed.
When there is no plan and no Long-Term Care Insurance in place, the family goes into crisis mode.
Paid Long-Term Care Services Adversely Effect Income and Assets
Paid professional care services are costly, and these costs are growing even faster due to COVID-19. The need for Long-Term Care Insurance has become even more significant.
The total cost of care depends on where you live. The LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator will show you the current and future costs of the various types of long-term health care.
Experts say the best time to purchase an LTC Insurance policy is when you are younger and healthier, ideally in your 40s or 50s. Be careful, however, since premiums for these policies vary over 100% between insurance companies.
Another problem some consumers run into is a lack of expertise. Very few insurance agents and financial advisors have the skills and knowledge to design an appropriate and affordable plan. Plus, they lack an understanding of underwriting rules and the Partnership Program available in most states.
Seek the assistance of a qualified Long-Term Care Insurance specialist and be sure they represent the major insurance companies. Ask them how many insurance companies they work with and how many LTC policies they have sold.
It is not how many years of experience a professional may have - it is the amount of real-life experience that is essential. Many specialists have over 500 clients; some have thousands.
You can find a trusted and experienced specialist by clicking here.
Take proactive action now to reduce the stress, burden, and anxiety on your family. Even a small Long-Term Care Insurance policy will reduce the pressure otherwise placed on those you love. Remember, when you own a policy, your loved ones will have the time to be family instead of being your caregiver. Most policies come with professional case management that helps your family when you need care.
The fact is long-term care is both a cash flow problem and a family problem. Give your family the time to be family and give yourself access to your choice of quality care either in-home or in a facility. You will safeguard your assets and enjoy peace of mind.
About the Author
Linda is a former journalist who now enjoys writing about topics she is interested in so she “can keep her mind active and engaged”.
Contributor since December 11th, 2017
Preparing for the challenges that come with getting older should be an essential part of your overall retirement plan. The costs and burdens of aging create dependency on family members and adversely impact your income, assets, lifestyle, and legacy.
Today, you can select from one of many different options to safeguard your income and assets and ensure you never put your family into a caregiver's role.
There are several types of Long-Term Care Insurance policies. These policies are, for most people, affordable. A specialist can navigate the many options based on your age, health, and family history.
Use LTC NEWS to Help in Your Research
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 the costs and burdens of changing health and aging, LTC NEWS has put in place several resources, including:
- The LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator will show you the current and future cost of long-term health care services where you live. Plus, each state has vital state-specific information you should know - Cost of Care Calculator - Choose Your State | LTC News
- 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, insurance companies' premiums vary over 100% 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.
Finding Quality Care for Mom or Dad
Start by reading our four guides -
- Finding Quality In-Home Care | LTC News
- Adult Day Care Centers (ADCCs) | LTC News
- Finding a Quality Nursing Home | LTC News
- Assisted Living and Memory Care Facilities | LTC News
If they are 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 Help in Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim
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.
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.
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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.
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