Caregiver's Health Now a Concern - Long-Term Care Affects Family Caregivers and Finances

Informal family caregivers face health problems as loved ones become caregivers for older parents. Professional care is costly, and costs are increasing yearly, adversely affecting the cash flow of American families. Planning will reduce these consequences.

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Caregiver's Health Now a Concern - Long-Term Care Affects Family Caregivers and Finances
4 Min Read November 22nd, 2022 Updated:April 14th, 2023

Caregivers face stress and anxiety, especially family caregivers. As more people with chronic illnesses and aging issues require help with their daily living activities, more families will be faced with either finding professional caregivers or providing care themselves. 

There are consequences that caregivers face in their role. The effects on these caregivers include physical health problems in addition to depression and anxiety. Caregiving often involves physically demanding tasks, such as lifting or assisting with mobility. This strains the caregiver's muscles and joints, leading to back pain, shoulder pain, and other physical injuries. While most caregivers are women. No matter your gender or physical health, it is physically difficult to do many of these tasks.

According to research published by the CDC, those who provide care for friends or family members are noticeably more likely than non-caregivers to suffer from arthritis. This is one of several studies that show caregivers' increased risk of health decline as they care for a loved one.

Chronic Stress

Being a caregiver can lead to chronic stress, harming the immune system. The constant stress of caregiving can cause inflammation in the body, leading to various chronic health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. This can make the caregiver more susceptible to illnesses and infections and make it harder for them to recover from these conditions. Insufficient sleep or exercise, which can further exacerbate physical ailments.

Mental Stress

Family caregivers also face mental health challenges as they balance their life and caregiving duties. This can impact the caregiver's mental health, which can, in turn, affects their physical well-being. Caregivers may experience depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues, which can cause various physical symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and digestive problems. 

The emotional toll of caregiving can also lead to changes in appetite, weight gain or loss, and other physical health issues. Caregivers find it hard to prioritize their own mental health and seek support when needed to avoid these physical health consequences.

50+ Million Family Caregivers Juggling Responsibilities  

National Family Caregivers Month and Long-Term Care Awareness Month are observed every November to recognize the contributions of the more than 50 million family caregivers in the United States and to bring attention to the difficulties they face.

According to a recent University of Michigan poll, in association with the AARP, caring for older adults is a critical responsibility for those over 50. With the increasing number of older people nationwide, the impact is being felt by more and more families.

In the past two years, 54% of individuals surveyed indicated they had assisted someone age 65 or older with personal, health, or other responsibilities. Most caregivers claimed they weren't paid for their assistance.

Numbers Show You Can't Ignore Long-Term Care

The numbers are staggering. Over half of those 50+ indicate they have assisted at least one senior in the past two years. These long-term care services include personal assistance with hygiene, other health-related issues, home tasks, and finances. 

Additionally, the findings revealed that more than 70% of participants had helped someone they didn't live with, such as a neighbor, a family member, or their parents.

Courtney Polenick, assistant professor of psychiatry and caregiving researcher at the Michigan of Michigan Medical School, said there are rewards to being a caregiver; however, the impact of caregiving should not be ignored.

The challenges of helping someone you know as they grow older should not be underestimated. These data show the importance of supporting those who help our nation's oldest adults. Not only have 54% of people over 50 done this in the past two years during the pandemic, but about two-thirds of that group are actively doing it right now.

Awareness Has Not Translated to Planning

Despite the impact of long-term care on family caregivers and the general awareness of the problem, not many people have taken any action to plan for the costs and burdens of declining health and aging.

About half of us who reach age 65 will need enough long-term health care services to qualify for benefits under a tax-qualified Long-Term Care Insurance policy, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. But according to a recent poll by OneAmerica, a leading insurance provider offering policies to cover long-term health care, only 16% of consumers had a plan. Only 29% of consumers have looked into alternatives, even though 84% say they are at least somewhat confident in their long-term care plan.

Traditional health insurance, including Medicare and supplements, will pay for a limited amount of skilled care -- leaving Americans on their own unless they have Long-Term Care Insurance. Those with little or no income and assets can access Medicaid benefits. Everyone else will have to depend on family, finances, or Long-Term Care Insurance.

OneAmerica is one of several insurance companies that offer asset-based or "hybrid" Long-Term Care Insurance plans. These hybrid products offer life insurance or an annuity with a qualified rider that covers long-term health care. This provides the policyholder with either a death benefit or long-term care benefits - or both.

The company says consumers are particularly drawn to asset-based long-term care protection, which features paying a benefit, even if care is unnecessary.

Jeff Levin, vice president and head of distribution of Care Solutions at OneAmerica, says those consumers who are familiar with these asset-based hybrid products understand their advantages.

The protection offers valuable benefits whether it is ever needed, and it's an effective means of creating greater efficiency, while maintaining access and control of money and care.

Long-Term Care Affects Families and Finances  

Most experts point out that long-term care is a cash flow and family issue. People understand the cost of long-term care services and how these costs, according to the LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator, are increasing rapidly. However, unless they have been a caregiver, they may not be aware of the personal nature of being a caregiver and the physical and emotional impact on the caregiver.

Research surveys have reported that caregiving was more difficult than what the caregiver had expected, especially when caring for older adults with specific needs or who have cognitive impairment. The obstacles included being emotionally or physically exhausted and having trouble juggling work and other duties.

Several Types of LTC Insurance are Available

Various types of Long-Term Care Insurance are available, and these policies greatly benefit policyholders and their families. In 2021 alone, the top companies spent over $12.3 Billion in long-term care benefits, and much of those benefits paid for in-home care.

Which type of policy is best for you? That answer depends on several things, and a qualified Long-Term Care Insurance specialist can assist you by making recommendations after matching your age, health, family history, and other factors. 

Even small policies can provide considerable help for the family. Partnership Long-Term Care Insurance offers additional asset protection. Many LTC Insurance plans also include benefits for equipment and monitoring, making it easier for the policyholder to stay at home. Case management helps the family create a plan of care and find caregivers. 

Most people purchase Long-Term Care Insurance in their 50s to take advantage of their health and lower premium costs. Since these insurance policies are medically underwritten, your health is a crucial consideration. Be sure to start planning before your health starts to decline significantly. 

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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

Have you considered how you and your family would address the impact of long-term health care? It is worth a few minutes to consider the financial consequences and the effects on your loved ones.

The markets and the economy can't be trusted to cover the costs, even if you want to use your money to pay for future care. Your family is not in a position to become caregivers, and besides, do you really want your daughter to help bathe you, provide bathroom hygiene assistance, and other personal needs? Probably not.

For many American families, Long-Term Care Insurance can offer an affordable solution. Sure, few people want to buy an insurance policy, yet LTC Insurance offers a variety of benefits at a reasonable cost.

There are tax advantages available for LTC Insurance in some situations. For states considering the LTC Tax, you can also avoid the tax.

Long-Term Care Insurance specialists can help match you with the best coverage at the best value and provide accurate quotes from all the top companies.

Resources on LTC NEWS

LTC NEWS provides a plethora of information and resources to help you understand your options for preparing for the financial costs and challenges of aging. The objective is to safeguard your 401(k) and other savings from increasing long-term health care costs. The other consideration is to allow your loved ones the time to be family instead of becoming your future caregiver.

You can compare the major insurance companies that offer Long-Term Care Insurance products here - Top Insurers for Long-Term Care Insurance.

The Ultimate Long-Term Care Guide is an outstanding read to help you get a good overview of the topic. 

There are also available tax incentives. See if these are helpful by reviewing the Long-Term Care Tax Benefits Guide.

Be sure to work with qualified Long-Term Care Insurance specialists who can help navigate all the available options. They will help you understand underwriting and provide accurate quotes from all the top companies, along with professional recommendations.

Find all the resources on LTC NEWS - Resources for Long-Term Care Planning.

Looking for Quality Caregivers? Need Help Filing an LTC Insurance Claim?

If a loved one already needs in-home care or owns a Long-Term Care Insurance policy and needs assistance filing the claim, LTC NEWS is here to help.

LTC NEWS provides free assistance with no obligation - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim. You can also help find caregivers and get recommendations for a proper care plan, whether a person has a policy or not.

Benefits of Reverse Mortgages 

Today, many people have a large portion of their savings in their homes. With today's reverse mortgages, you can leverage the equity in your home to pay for in-home care if you require it right away, fund a long-term care insurance policy, supplement your retirement income, and more.

You can ask questions to LTC NEWS columnist and host of the TV Show 62 Who Knew in the LTC NEWS feature "Ask Mike." His expertise in caregiving, aging, health, retirement planning, long-term care, and reverse mortgages can be a valuable resource - Reverse Mortgages.

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