The aging of America has caused an increase in the number of multigenerational families. This trend will continue as longevity and the impact of aging require more people to need help with everyday living activities. Without advance planning the family must take over.
The U.S. Census Bureau defines these multigenerational families as those consisting of more than two generations living under the same roof. Many researchers also include households with a grandparent and at least one other generation.
More American Families Impacted
According to Generations United (www.gu.org) these multigenerational households have rapidly increased in the last few years. They note one in six Americans currently lives in a multigenerational household. This number has increased dramatically. In 1980 multigenerational households accounted for only 12 percent of the U.S. population. By 2010 that number had climbed to an estimated 16.1 percent. In 2014 Pew Research said 60.6 million people, or 19 percent of the U.S. population, lived in multigenerational homes. As many as 40 percent of nonwhite and 42 percent of Asian-Americans lived in shared households. About 4.2 million of the 113.6 million U.S. Households consist of three or more generations.
Nearly a quarter of Americans age 85 and older now live in a multi-generational household. This means they could benefit from smarter planning, so says the director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI), a national trade organization.
"The number of older Americans living together with younger family members continues to climb," declared Jesse Slome, AALTCI's director. Slome points to recent data that reported in 2006 only 20 percent of those 85 and older lived in a multi-generational setting.
"Several factors account for the growing trend including inadequate retirement savings and the need and cost for long-term care services," Slome notes.
Being a Caregiver is Not Easy
The need for Long-Term Care Services & Supports has increased over the years with the advances in medical science and increased longevity. The amount of people who plan for the financial costs and burdens of aging is still fairly low and without such a plan, families will do whatever it takes to provide care for elder family members. This creates a tremendous burden on the younger generation who have careers, responsibilities and their own families to consider.
Without any advance plan the family has the full responsibility which often includes caregiving. Over time, as a person gets older, there is a greater reliance on the family caregivers for assistance. This includes providing medications, household tasks, communicating with health professionals, and providing emotional support to the care recipient. This increases over time to include self-care tasks, and even routine medical care such as giving injections. With time, the family caregiver's role and responsibly increases placing an even bigger burden on the family.
"I would expect the trend to continue with more Americans living with and caring for their aging parents," Slome predicted. "For many of these individuals and families, a different means of approaching long-term care planning could be extremely beneficial."
Long-Term Care Insurance Can Be an Easy and Affordable Solution
Slome suggested millions of Americans would benefit from a form of long-term care planning that included smaller and shorter long-term care insurance policies and where they are available short-term care insurance policies. The latter offer benefits because some policies can be obtained at older ages, well into the applicant's 80s.
"A long-term care insurance policy that provides more modest benefits will cost around $100 a month which is the maximum many people can or will spend," Slome pointed out. "But it could enable some level of professional care in the home that allows the adult child to maintain their job or just some to have some respite from the job of caregiving."
Plan Before You Retire
Many experts suggest obtaining a full benefit Long-Term Care policy prior to retirement. However, if a person is older than 70 those options may be limited due to the person’s health or the overall cost. These shorter-duration plans could be a possible solution to reduce the burden on the adult children of these older people.
Short-term care insurance policies are available in a growing number of states. This trend, Slome believes, is beneficial for millions of families as well as American taxpayers.
"If we want to avoid a significant increase in the number of individuals turning to government programs funded by taxpayers, we need to find affordable solutions, and short-term care insurance is an option we hope more states accept," he added.
"Throwing the burden onto families and communities and kicking the can down the road are not viable solutions," Slome explained.
LTC Insurance Specialists Qualified to Help
Many Long-Term Care specialists represent not only the major companies who offer traditional Long-Term Care Insurance but also offer these shorter-duration plans and “hybrid plans” which are single premium life insurance policies or annuities with riders which include coverage for long-term care.
The AALTCI has always suggested using a specialist in Long-Term Care instead of a financial advisor or general insurance agent.
They define 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.
Longevity and health issues impact American families in many ways. Caregiving is very difficult for family members of any age. Paid care drains assets. Long-Term Care Insurance, in any of its forms, will reduce these burdens on loved ones while providing quality care while protecting savings.