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.
People require long-term health care for many reasons. People experience changes in their health due to a chronic illness, accident, or the consequences of longevity. Since many families have not planned for the future costs and related burdens of long-term care, a crisis occurs. A family member, often a daughter or daughter-in-law, becomes the primary caregiver if there are limited funds or no Long-Term Care Insurance 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 use 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 and the anxiety families face when dealing with a loved one who needs long-term health care. Almost 61% of these family caregivers also work full time, not to mention the 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 one's self suggests 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 most unpaid family caregivers indicate they have little choice in becoming a caregiver. Half of these family caregivers say they are very stressed.
In normal times, a caregiver's role is physically and emotionally demanding, but this level of anxiety and burden has increased due to the virus crisis. 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 care services are costly, and these costs continue to grow even faster due to COVID-19. The need for Long-Term Care Insurance has become even greater. The total cost of care depends on where you live. The LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator will show you the current and future cost 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, which is available in 45 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 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.
You can take action now to reduce the stress and burdens on your family. Even a small Long-Term Care policy will reduce the pressure otherwise placed on those you love. 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.
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 savings and make sure you never put your family into a position of being a caregiver. 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
Be sure to work with an LTC Insurance specialist since financial advisors and general insurance agents lack expertise in this area. Use the many tools and resources available on LTC NEWS to help you start your research - just click here.
This comprehensive guide is an outstanding first read - The Ultimate Long-Term Care Guide.
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