In a 1997 speech, Rosalynn Carter, the wife of Jimmy Carter, the former President of the United States, made a statement, “There are only four kinds of people in this world”:
- Those who have been caregivers,
- Those who currently are caregivers,
- Those who will be caregivers, and
- Those who will need caregivers.
Long-Term Care’s Profound Effect on a Family
When a loved one requires long-term care, it can have a profound effect on a family. Studies have shown that providing care to people who are chronically ill can have a detrimental effect on caregivers. This is especially true when the caregiver is the individual’s spouse or other family member.
In addition to the physical and emotional toll it takes on the caregiver, sibling relationships are often challenged when a parent requires long-term care and a family member provides the care. This is true even in the best situations where the family all live in the same area and have previously enjoyed a good working relationship with one another.
This is a huge and growing problem given the following five facts:
- 10 – 12 million people in the U.S. currently need long-term care services.
- 70 percent of people who reach age 65 will need some type of long-term care.
- The number of people over age 65 is projected to increase from 42 million in 2010 to 84 million in 2050.
- Longevity continues to increase with individuals reaching age 65 having an average life expectancy of 83.2 years.
- Over 70 percent of all long-term care is provided by family members.
The problem is exacerbated by the fact that 60 percent of family caregivers are employed and the average length of family provided long-term care is 20 hours per week. Alzheimer’s/dementia cases, which currently comprise approximately 20 percent of all long-term care claims, present unique challenges for professional caregivers, let alone family members.
In a best-case scenario, assuming that the family caregiver lives in the area and isn’t working, his/her (most likely her since approximately two-thirds of family caregivers are women) previous day-to-day routine will be a thing of the past. The family caregiver’s emotional and physical well-being will inevitably be compromised as a result of this radical lifestyle change.
Long-Term Care Insurance to the Rescue
Assuming that you understand that (a) long-term care isn’t an isolated situation and (b) there will be a physical and emotional toll on family caregivers and the extended family of individuals requiring long-term care services for an extended period of time, it makes sense to plan for this situation long before it ever becomes reality.
While it generally isn’t inexpensive due to the high cost of benefits and requires a long-term commitment, long-term care insurance, or “LTCI,” is the best solution in many cases. While you’re technically the “insured” when you purchase a LTCI policy for yourself, you’re actually insuring your family.
The fact that long-term care insurance relieves family members of caregiving responsibilities and all of the associated problems that go with it is worth its weight in gold. If ever needed, the cumulative premiums paid for long-term care insurance will generally pale in comparison to the benefits provided, not to mention lost income experienced by family caregivers.
What about the peace of mind knowing that a long-term care plan will preserve the emotional, physical, and financial well-being of those you love and care about? How do you place a price tag on this?
Do you want to protect your family? Make LTCI a priority.