Long term care is an inevitable stage in every person’s life. At one point or another, you have become the caregiver and the care recipient, though you might not have noticed it at that time. Why? Because caregiving is not just about 24/7 specialized care. It is not limited to round-the-clock monitoring, injections, or feeding tubes. If you are the person who buys the groceries, cooks the meals, or cleans the house for someone with special needs, then you are a caregiver—whether you realize it or not.
In the United States, approximately 43.5 million individuals are providing unpaid long term care to an adult or a child. 34.2 million of this number provides care to an adult age 50 and older in 2015. Many people do so to avoid the high prices of care (refer to this link for the cost of long term care by state). Though care expenses in each state vary, they can still be a significant blow to anyone’s savings. This is why individuals and families rely on each other instead, thinking that this is the best alternative.
While this situation might work for many families, we must also discuss the risks involved. Now, this is in no way an attempt to discourage anyone from caring for their loved ones in need. This is to get a better understanding of what the responsibility entails for both the care provider and the care recipient.
The dependence of a family member is not something to be taken lightly. And this can take a toll on any person’s emotional and mental health. While drives to the grocery might be fine and manageable on the surface, the story that might be behind it could mean so much more. How? A person could be doing this because a loved one suffers from Alzheimer’s or some other form of cognitive disease. While one the outside, it could appear as a regular task, it can be so much more when you look deeper.
Seeing a loved one in that state can take a serious toll on a person. Caregiver depression is a reality that many people go through, but like other cases of depression, it goes unnoticed. Often, care providers put the needs of their care recipients first to see their own needs.
Physical health also becomes secondary for the care provider. For many cases, caregiving can take up so much of your time and your energy that you neglect your own bodily needs. Exercising and eating healthy shifts from being necessary to time-consuming. Not to mention the stress that the body takes when providing the care to loved one begins.
It might not be true for everyone, but there are a great number of individuals in similar situations. Providing care to a family member can overtake one’s life.
Caring for a sick loved one also takes a toll on your finances. Some caregivers need to take fewer hours at work, and many leave their chosen careers to accommodate the demands of care.
Because of the increase in prices and lack of proper planning, some older adults also find themselves outliving their savings. Their family members, often their children, are now burdened with the costs that they accrue. This situation leaves them with fewer opportunities to prepare for their own future care needs.
Despite the negative press that surrounds it, long term care insurance seems to come out on top. In a recent study, 94% of claimants from 11 major companies say that their long term care insurance benefits are sufficient to meet their care requirements. People are satisfied with what they are getting from their policies.
This goes for both situations. Long term care insurance policies can help both the caregiver and the recipient. On one hand, the caregiver gets a form of reprieve. The burden is not solely on one person. On the other hand, the care recipient is given more liberty to choose the care that he or she prefers without feeling like a burden.
While it might not be a product that everyone can appreciate, it certainly does the trick for those who do. After all, the last thing that anyone wants when they reach their 80s is uncertainty.