Unpaid Caregivers Impact Quality Long Term Care

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Published: Dec 29th, 2016
Unpaid Caregivers Impact  Quality Long Term Care

Too many caregivers providing help for a person requiring Long Term Health Care are not qualified to provide that help. Many of these caregivers are unpaid family members. This creates an additional burden on the caregiver as it impacts their lifestyle and family, finances and health. About 80 percent of care at home is provided by unpaid caregivers and may include an array of emotional, financial, nursing, social, homemaking, and other services according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Helping a person with their medications can be hard. Sometimes an untrained caregiver will mix up medications which can cause major health issues. Mixing up pills are hard on those trained to provide such services much less a person who is not trained. The AARP says more than three-quarters of caregivers help loved ones to fill and manage medications that often require juggling varying dosages for pills that can appear identical. Many untrained caregivers are a family member, often a daughter or daughter-in-law. For them, it is harder as they are part of the sandwich generation. This means they have a spouse, children, a job and the job of a caregiver for a parent or other family member. In other words, they are mentally and physically drained as they juggle work, family, career, and caregiving.

There are an estimated 43.5 million unpaid caregivers in the U.S., many taking care of older adults with multiple chronic conditions. Traditionally, caregiving involved helping a person with basic daily activities. But the work has grown more demanding. They perform routine nursing work such as draining catheters. Caregivers also help loved ones navigate the healthcare system. 

The skills required to help a person bathe and perform other activities of daily living requires skill so the person doesn't hurt themselves or the person they are trying to help. Many family members are not prepared for this work. This creates a huge burden on everyone. A recent article in Modern Healthcare says the economic value of caregiving, which ranges from short-term post-acute assistance to long-term care, was estimated at $470 billion in 2013. In 2011, the Congressional Budget Office estimated, family members provided 55% of the value of long-term elderly care services, or $234 billion a year. 

"Despite the value of their work, these unpaid caregivers often lack the skills and support needed to properly care for their loved ones. And as the medical complexity of patient cases escalates, so do concerns about safety," wrote Elizabeth Whitman in her this article. 

An answer for many is to plan before any caregiving is required. First, understand the risk of needing Long-Term Care is high. As medical science gets better we live longer. The financial costs and burdens of aging will impact your savings and create physical, emotional and financial burdens on loved ones. Affordable Long-Term Care Insurance will provide the resources for quality caregivers and reduce the burden placed on family. 

Experts say the best time to plan is well before retirement. As you are saving money in your 401k and IRA finding a way to protect the money and have a plan to reduce the family burden is perhaps common sense ... but the main fail to plan until it is too late. 

The US Department of Health and Human Services says 7 in 10 people who reach the age of 65 will require some type of Long-Term Care service before they die. The fact is it can and may happen to you. A plan to address this risk should be part of your overall retirement planning.

LTC News Contributor James Kelly
James Kelly

Contributor Since
January 1st, 1970

LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.

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LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.

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