Being a family caregiver for a beloved older loved one can be a challenging and emotional task. Providing physical, emotional, and financial support to the aging parent or grandparent can take a toll on each person's mental, physical, and spiritual reserves.
With this responsibility comes the complex tasks of either being a caregiver and/or managing and obtaining outside services, understanding and managing a loved one's finances, managing complex medical treatments and care, and dealing with their reactions to the changes brought about by aging.
As a caregiver, people often feel overwhelmed. Time spent managing and providing care takes up much time, sometimes even more than time spent on the caregiver's family, hobbies, and profession. It usually is emotionally draining to be more of a parent to your parent rather than the other way around.
The demand of keeping up with an older adult's physical and emotional needs can take its toll. Even the most resilient among us can feel the strain.
Study Shows the Obvious
In 2018 Genworth Financial, one of the nation's leading providers of Long-Term Care Insurance, released a study that the caregivers providing care for adult parents are being burdened more than you would expect.
That study is now understated as many more people require long-term health care, and the impact of the COVID-19 crisis has created many more complications.
Providing care for loved ones has taken a toll on the careers of half of the caregivers surveyed in Genworth's 2018 Beyond Dollars study, with 11% losing their jobs and another 10% having to change careers. That's in addition to the other financial, physical, and emotional impacts of caregiving examined in the survey.
Family Caregivers Face Challenges
Being a family caregiver is not an easy task. The study shows 53% of the caregivers reported high-stress levels, and 41% reported depression and resentment.
Fifty-two percent of the caregivers indicated they were not qualified to provide the care. Caregiving responsibilities may include helping with activities such as bathing, dressing, and household chores.
Half of the caregivers surveyed in the study felt that caregiving responsibilities negatively impacted their ability to perform their jobs.
70% of caregivers reported missed time at work
46% reported cutting back their hours
62% of caregivers said they lost income as a result of caregiving.
Being a family caregiver is physically and emotionally demanding. However, it can be financially burdensome as well. According to the study, caregivers face an average of $10,400 in out-of-pocket expenses.
Families of Caregivers Are Negatively Impacted
Most of the time, the family is not prepared for a long-term health care event placing the family into crisis. As they are unprepared for their role, they report it puts additional strain on their lives:
70% of caregivers purchased everyday items for their loved ones
61% of families helped to cover the cost of professional home care
48% of caregivers reported a reduction in their quality of life because of the added expense of paying for care.
Many people don't think about the consequences of their role of being a caregiver places on their families.
Half (50%) of caregivers reported less time for their spouses, children, and themselves.
40% indicated their relationships with their spouse/partner were negatively impacted
29% said their relationship with their children was negatively affected.
Caregivers Face Their Own Health Challenges
The role of being a caregiver adversely impacts the caregiver's health as well. According to the study, 46% of the caregivers reported that being a caregiver negatively affected their health and well-being.
Caregivers are getting younger and younger, with 58% of caregivers today being aged 25 to 54. The average age of a person needing long-term health care has dropped from age 75 to age 62. Advances in medical science make it more difficult to die from a health event or accident—however, the need for long-term care increases.
LTC Insurance Eases Family Burden
In 2021 the major insurance companies paid over $12.3 Billion in Long-Term Care Insurance benefits. These benefits help the policyholder stay in their own home. In-home care is one of the most significant benefits of an LTC Insurance policy.
Long-Term Care Insurance helps reduce the burden placed on your adult children by allowing them the time to be family and supportive. These policies provide care recipients with quality care ranging from home care and assisted living to nursing home care.
In addition, Long-Term Care Insurance can reduce the financial burden placed on adult children by shielding them from the expensive costs associated with care and allowing them to concentrate on their other responsibilities, such as providing support and emotional comfort to their family. Often at least one of the children must take time off work to provide care and support for an older parent.
You must have a policy in place before your health changes. The best time to obtain Affordable Long-Term Care Insurance is when you are in your 40s or 50s and still enjoy good health and lower premiums.
Suly Salazar-Layton, director of Thought Leadership at Genworth's U.S. Life Insurance Division, says planning makes it easier on everyone in the family.
In fact, 50 percent of respondents said if they could do anything differently, it would be to do a better job of planning. Our hope is that this study will encourage families to sit down and have that talk well before caregiving becomes a crisis.
The Denial Factor
The study also highlights several factors contributing to respondents' reluctance to plan early. Two of the biggest factors cited were "not wanting to admit care was needed" and "not wanting to talk about the issue" (cited by 30% and 25%, respectively).
Overall, caregivers who planned earlier for long-term care arrangements saved money. For instance, caregivers providing care to recipients with Long-Term Care insurance could secure reimbursement of 23% of their qualified out-of-pocket expenses.
It's not easy to admit when there is an issue, especially when it comes to matters of declining health, and it's not always easy broaching the topic of Long-Term Care with the people you love.
Salazar-Layton says that taking action, speaking to loved ones, and meeting with experts will make things easier for caregivers and care recipients.
Beyond Dollars found that almost half of the care recipients (48%) had considered the possibility of long-term care, but only one-quarter of this group (26%) had planned to cover their potential needs. Even planners felt they could have been better prepared: 63 percent of this group believed they should have taken steps sooner, which would have led to reduced stress.
Genworth no longer sells new Long-Term Care Insurance policies but remains one of the industry's largest payers of LTC Insurance claims.
Other LTC Insurance Options to Consider
If you are currently considering Long-Term Care Insurance, several top-rated insurance companies offer both traditional and partnership-certified plans. The top insurance companies for traditional Long-Term Care Insurance include:
The top insurance companies for hybrid plans that combine life insurance or an annuity with a qualified rider (meeting federal guidelines) for long-term health care include:
Most people obtain LTC Insurance coverage in their 50s. Seek professional help from a specialist to assist you in your research.
About the Author
An LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.
Contributor since August 21st, 2017
Chronic illness, accidents, mobility problems, dementia, and frailty due to aging all lead to a higher risk of needing help with daily living activities or supervision due to dementia. Do you have a plan for longevity and long-term health care?
If your plan depends on your family to become your caregiver, there may be better options for them - or you. Family caregivers lack the skills to provide quality care, plus the demanding job is physically and emotionally demanding.
Being a caregiver is very personal. Would you want your daughter (or, for that matter, your son) to take you to the bathroom and help you use the toilet? What about personal hygiene? Bathing or dressing? There is a better way.
Long-Term Care Insurance will guarantee tax-free funds to pay for quality care services, including in-home care. Not only will you protect your savings, but your loved ones will have time for the family instead of being a caregiver.
There are many options from top-rated insurance companies:
These plans are affordable, especially if you obtain coverage when most people do - when you are in your 50s. Premiums vary dramatically between insurance companies, so be sure to get accurate quotes from all the top companies. An experienced Long-Term Care Insurance specialist can match your age, health, and family history with the most affordable option.
The chance of needing long-term health care is high and increases as you age. You deserve quality care when you need help with daily living activities or require supervision due to dementia. When you own an LTC policy, you remain in control.
There are several types of policies available, and all have several options. The specialist will review these with you, and you can decide which plan you want since LTC Insurance is custom designed.
Plan before your health changes and your options start to diminish. Long-Term Care Insurance is medically underwritten, so don't delay.
Tools and Resources Available on LTC NEWS
There are a variety of tools and resources that LTC NEWS offers that can help you in your research:
The Ultimate Long-Term Care Insurance Guide - If you like details, you will enjoy this comprehensive guide to LTC Insurance.
Long-Term Care Guides - LTC NEWS has several other guides that can help you plan or find quality care.
Cost of Care Calculator - Choose Your State - You can find the current and future cost of long-term health care services where you live.
Frequently Asked Questions - Get the answers to the most often asked questions about long-term health care planning and LTC Insurance.
Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim - Does a loved one - like your Mom or Dad - have a Long-Term Care Insurance policy and need to file a claim to get benefits? LTC NEWS will help. If they don't have a policy, but you need help in getting a plan of care and finding caregivers, LTC NEWS can also assist.
Reverse Mortgages - Learn about reverse mortgages and ask questions about how they work and if you or a loved one would benefit from one.
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