It should be no surprise that America is getting older. Yes, we know all about the Baby Boomers, but right behind them is the Late-Boomers and Generation X. Many people over age 40 are now, or will need, long-term care services in their homes or in a facility.
Because of denial or procrastination, many families delay or ignore any advance planning for the consequences of aging and changing health. As a result, family members find themselves in the caregiver role either on a full-time basis or along with paid caregivers.
Paid care is very expensive. Family members typically still have their own families, careers, and responsibilities. The crisis is on, and the entire family is affected.
Informal Caregiving Impacting American, Canadian, and U.K. Families
About 1 in 3 adults in the United States provide care to other adults as informal caregivers. More than 8 million Canadians provided informal care to family members or friends. More than 1 million caregivers are older than 65. 44% of caregivers between the ages of 45-64 care for both a parent and children. In the U.K., government statistics report that one in four older female workers, and one in eight older male workers, have caring responsibilities with one in five people aged 50 to 69-year-old are providing care.
If you find yourself in the role of a caregiver, you know how stressful it is physically, emotionally, and even financially. How can you reduce some of this stress?
Signs of Caregiver Stress
Many caregivers remain very focused on their role to the point they ignore their own health. Sometimes they even ignore their own families and careers due to the overwhelming responsibility of caring for a parent or parent-in-law. The Mayo Clinic sites several signs you should be aware of if you are a caregiver or a friend or family member of a caregiver.
- Abusing alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications
- Becoming easily irritated or angry
- Feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried
- Feeling sad
- Feeling tired often
- Gaining or losing weight
- Getting too much sleep or not enough sleep
- Having frequent headaches, bodily pain or other physical problems
- Losing interest in activities they used to enjoy
Too much stress is not good or your physical or emotional health. Caregivers tend to suffer from depression and anxiety, and it needs to be treated. The added stress and physical and emotional problems will impact the caregiver and the care recipient and the caregiver's own family as well.
Easing Stress on the Caregiver
The Office of Woman's Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers several suggestions to ease the stress on family caregivers. Perhaps the primary recommendation is for the caregiver to see their own primary care physician. Ignoring their health does nobody any good.
Be sure that the doctor knows about being an informal family caregiver. They should be told about any symptoms of depression, anxiety, and physical illnesses that the caregiver is experiencing. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away.
Other items to reduce stress include:
- Do not shoulder the full responsibility. Ask for help from other family members.
- Stay involved with your friends and family. Don't ignore them because of your role as a caregiver.
- Get enough sleep and watch your diet.
Advance Planning Eases Family Burden
The best way to reduce the pressure and stress of family caregivers is never to be forced into that role in the first place. Today's caregivers can't change the fact their families did not plan – or didn't have the resources to plan for the financial costs and burdens of aging. However, this is something the rest of us can learn from to reduce the consequences our families may face in the decades ahead.
For many American families, affordable Long-Term Care Insurance is the answer. The policies are already working, helping families pay for their choice of quality care at home or in a facility. Not only does Long-Term Care Insurance protect savings and income, it gives the family the time to be family.
In 2019 the top insurance companies paid over $11 billion in Long-Term Care Insurance benefits. These policies are already working. They can work for you and your family in the decades ahead.
Custom Design an Affordable LTC Insurance Policy
LTC Insurance policies are custom designed. You can decide the total amount of benefits based on several factors, including your budget. Even smaller policies offer a lot of help for families to reduce stress and anxiety. Bigger plans can provide complete asset protection.
In 45 states, special Partnership Long-Term Care Insurance plans offer dollar-for-dollar asset protection. A qualified and certified Long-Term Care Insurance specialist will design an appropriate plan based on your age, health, family history, and other factors.
Be sure to work with a specialist who works with the top insurance companies, not just one or two. They need to understand underwriting, policy features, and benefits like shared spousal plans, partnership programs, policy design, and claims. Usually, this will not be a general insurance agent or financial advisor.
Very Few LTC Insurance Specialists Exist Nationwide
Keep in mind the person may tell you they are a specialist. The American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance defines a specialist as a person who has been working primarily in long-term care for at least three years, has at least 100 clients with an LTC insurance policy, and works with at least three major insurance companies. Often, the top specialists have helped thousands of clients nationwide working with a dozen or more companies.
Find a trusted and experienced LTC Insurance specialist by clicking here. Remember, premiums vary over 100% between insurance companies, so it pays to make sure you find the right specialist who and shop for the best coverage at the best value.
Since LTC Insurance is medically underwritten, and premiums are based in part by health, it is best to start researching for coverage in your 40s or 50s.
If you are a caregiver today, or a family member of a caregiver, give them the support they need and deserve. If you are age 45 to 65 and not yet planed for your future long-term care, better take time now so you can enjoy future control and independence. You probably don't want to place the future responsibility of caregiving on your family – nor do you want to drain savings and income.
Enjoy peace-of-mind by placing an affordable plan in place now.
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
The resources on LTC NEWS will help you learn about your options to plan for aging's financial costs and burdens. As you prepare for your future retirement, better consider the physical, emotional, and financial burdens that get placed on you and your loved ones.
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