Caregiving Often Not a Choice – Implications are Numerous

The implications of being a family caregiver can impact multiple generations. Too often we ignore the financial costs and burdens of aging when planning for retirement. Longevity requires an advance plan for both family and finances.

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Caregiving Often Not a Choice – Implications are Numerous
4 Min Read March 16th, 2021

We often live our life the way we want to until some event or crisis occurs. When a crisis happens, we react and will do the best we can, depending on the problem. It sure would be easier for everyone if we prepared for these crisis events before that happen but usually, we don't.

Millions of Americans are engaged in or affected by family caregiving for older adults or those who have ongoing illnesses, including dementia, at any age. The consequences of aging and ongoing health issues are not limited to any one segment of society. Advances in medical science increase longevity, and longevity increases the risk of needing long-term health care.

Being a caregiver for a parent or spouse is generally not a choice. The role of being a caregiver happens because of a crisis. When a loved one needs care due to an illness, accident, or the impact of aging and the family discovers quickly that health insurance and Medicare will not pay for most of the required care. If the care recipient does not own Long-Term Care Insurance or qualify for Medicaid, the caregiver's role becomes a family issue.

Multiple Generations Impacted by Caregiving Role

The implications of this role are numerous and are not limited to the caregiver and the care recipient. Remember, caregiving does not happen in a vacuum. The caregiver, often a daughter or daughter-in-law, will have their own career, spouse, children, and other responsibilities they will have to juggle with their new role of caregiver.

The difficulty of this role depends on the duration and intensity of the care recipient's needs. This would include how many hours of care required each day and the type of care services necessary. In many situations, paid care will also supplement the family caregiver's work. The total amount of paid care will directly impact the family caregiver.

Research shows the median number of caregiving years for a person who has dementia or needs help with two or more activities of daily living ADL) is four years. It is five years if the care recipient needs both dementia supervision and help with ADLs.

Family Fails to See the Signs of Aging Decline

Many family members ignore signs that their parent or spouse needs long-term health care. Often the first sign that something might be wrong is their loved one's emergency room visit. By the time they notice problems, their loved one has advanced in their needs. Many family members laugh off possible dementia, or they think falls are normal. Falls are never part of normal aging, and while some memory loss comes with getting older, there are several points family should notice to see if these memory lapses are more significant.

Signs of Uncommon Aging

The cost of extended care is expensive, and unless a person owns a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, the family must decide how to pay for the proper care and stretch the financial resources so they last long enough to maintain the quality of the care. If resources are limited, the family becomes the primary caregivers, but it usually falls on just one person – a daughter is often the primary choice.

The caregiver’s personal lives are often ignored by they become thrust into the caregiver’s role. Remember, the caregiver does not cease to be human. They remain a spouse, parent, employee, business owner, and community member. The caregiver typically ignores their own health and mentally face depression and anxiety. Caregivers face financial pressure, as well.

American Families are Dealing with Long-Term Care Right Now

An AARP reports says that more than one in five Americans are caregivers right now. This is an estimated 53.0 million adults in the United States who find themselves in a caregiver role. Yet how many people have prepared their family and finances for the financial costs and burdens of aging?

The answer to that question does vary. Some decide it won’t happen to them or think they have time later to think about it. Others believe a solution like Long-Term Care Insurance is too expensive. Still, others think their families can be caregivers.

If you actually look at your options, you discover that depending on your family is not a good solution for long-term care. Ignoring the problem doesn’t prevent it from occurring and creating a crisis. Forget the statistics (they are available); just understand the longer you live, the greater your chance of needing help. It will either happen or not. For many American families, affordable Long-Term Care Insurance is the right solution addressing several factors:

  • Access to your choice quality care
  • Income and asset protection
  • Reducing the burden on family members
  • Avoiding dependence on others
  • Cost of LTC Insurance is much less expensive than cost of care and consequences on family

Long-Term Care Insurance is medically underwritten, which means you must have reasonable health in order to obtain coverage. You can’t wait until you need the care to get a policy. The best time to obtain coverage is prior to retirement, ideally in your 40s or 50s.

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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”.

LTC News Contributor Linda Maxwell

Linda Maxwell

Contributor since December 11th, 2017

Editor's Note

The problem of long-term care is both a cash flow issue and a family issue. Preparing your family and finances for the financial costs and burdens associated with long-term health care is key to enjoying a successful future retirement.

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