Family Caregivers Face Surprising Truths about Long-term Care

Did you know that parent care is the primary caregiving situation for mid-life caregivers? Nearly 70% of family caregivers are between 50 and 64. At a time when they should be preparing for retirement, they’re unwittingly sabotaging their own futures.

Still Alice, the 2014 movie based on Lisa Genova’s bestselling book. It tells the story of Alice Howland, a distinguished professor of linguistics at Columbia University, who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in her fifties.

 

Though the movie focuses more on the progression of her disease than the long-term care required to meet her daily needs. The impact it has on her family is both clear and heartbreaking.

 

When it comes time to consider options for long-term care, already-present family tensions are magnified. Alice’s children have a strained relationship with each other. Lydia, the youngest, is frustrated that her mother doesn’t take her budding acting career seriously.

 

By the time the family starts discussing alternatives for care, the couples’ oldest daughter has twin babies. Their son is in medical school. Her husband, a biologist, has received a once-in-a-lifetime job offer at the Mayo Clinic. He wants to bring Alice with him to Minnesota and find an in-home caregiver.

Family Caregivers Face Real Issues


The movie touches on the many real issues families face when a family member needs long-term care. Relationships are strained in even the closest families, and so are family finances.

Sandwich generation caregivers have to navigate caring for parents while caring for children. The loss of immediate income, lifetime earnings, and career advancement cripple care providers’ own futures. And the physical, social, and emotional stresses of providing long-term care can devastate individuals.

 

Forbes reported on a study that shows there is a significant negative financial impact of long-term care on families. Women in particular are affected, since they are more likely to be the primary family caregivers.

 

The number of adults who serve as family caregivers in the United States is high — two out of every five adults. That equates to tens of millions of Americans. Many of them pay for expenses out of their own pockets after exhausting the financial resources of the person needing care. Providing care for a family member also often means a partial or total loss of income. Fahle and McGarry found that lost wages and retirement and Social Security benefits can add up to more than $300,000 over the caregiver’s lifetime.

Long-term Care Insurance Means Choices for Families

 

In Still Alice, Lydia moves back to New York to care for her mother while her father moves to Minnesota. He takes the Mayo Clinic job, so he can continue to pay for Alice’s care. Lydia’s position is not uncommon according to Fahle and McGarry’s study. “Eleven percent of caregivers end up having to quit their job to care for someone at home around-the-clock.”

 

Ask us about cash benefits that provide payments for friends or family members who serve as informal caregivers.

 

The Howland’s dilemma is neatly resolved in the movie, but in real life many families don’t have the same options. Often, mothers of small children need to care for aging parents too. Older children may need to drop out of school to become full-time family caregivers. Spouses may have to cut their own careers short, resulting in a significant loss of income and retirement benefits. This results in a reduced quality of life for both partners.

 

Alice’s diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s in her early fifties is a wake-up call. It  illustrates the importance of preparing for the possibility of long-term care needs well in advance, and while you’re healthy. One important factor to consider is long-term care insurance.

 

A long-term care insurance policy can help pay for the costs of care that are generally not covered by health insurance or government programs like Medicare or Medicaid. Though most people don’t need long-term care until after the age of 65, the best time to buy insurance is when you are young and healthy, and qualify for the lowest rates, ideally, around the time you turn 50.

Not Every Policy Offers the Same Benefits


When choosing a long-term care insurance policy, it is important to know that every policy does not offer the same benefits. For example, many don’t cover specialized Alzheimer’s and dementia services. Nor do they offer cash benefits that provide payments for friends or family caregivers. They also don’t pay for respite care that can provide temporary relief for long-term caregivers.

 

Capital Retention offers policy options that cover all of these needs. In addition, they have a Care Coordination Service staffed with licensed health care professionals. They assist families in making decisions that work best for them and ease the transition for both patients and their family caregivers.

 

An initial health screening and an approved application is all it takes to give your family the peace of mind that comes with long-term care insurance. Contact us today to schedule a time to discuss your options, and start the simple pre-qualification and application process.

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(Source: Family Caregiver Alliance – National Center on Caregiving)

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