Why Having a conversation about Long-Term Care planning matters
Caregiving is not an place; it is a situation where people transition from an active lifestyle to needing care services.
Forty-four million Americans age 18 and older provide unpaid assistance and support to older people and adults with disabilities.
Evidence shows that most caregivers are not properly prepared for the responsibilities of care giving. More than one-third of caregivers provide personal caregiving to family and friends, while caregivers have their own health issues.
Research establishes that family members who provide care to individuals with chronic or disabling conditions are themselves at risk. Emotional, mental, and physical health problems arise from complex caregiving situations and the strains of caring for frail or disabled relatives.
Medical advances, shorter hospital stays, limited discharge planning, and expansion of home care technology have placed increased costs and responsibilities on families, who are asked to be responsible to be caregivers for extended periods.
Caregivers are more likely to lack health insurance coverage due to time out of the workforce.
These burdens and health risks will hinder the caregiver’s ability to provide care, leading to higher health care costs and affecting both the caregiver and care receivers.
Impact of Caregiving on Caregiver Mental and Emotional Health
The psychological health of the family caregiver is negatively affected by providing care. Higher levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health effects are typical among family members who care for an older relative or friend.
Caregivers show higher levels of depression.
- Studies consistently report higher depressive symptoms and mental health problems among caregivers than non-caregiving peers.
- Estimates show that between 40 to 70% of caregivers have clinically significant symptoms of depression, with approximately one-quarter to one-half of these caregivers meeting the diagnostic criteria for major depression.
- Both caregiver depression and perceived burden increase as the care receiver’s functional status declines.
Caregivers suffer from high levels of stress and frustration.
- Caregivers have higher levels of stress than non-caregivers. They also describe feeling frustrated, angry, drained, guilty, or helpless due to providing care.
- Some 16% of caregivers feel emotionally strained, and 26% say taking care of the care recipient is hard on them emotionally. An additional 13% of caregivers feel frustrated with the lack of progress made with the care recipient.
- More than one-fifth (22%) of caregivers are exhausted when they go to bed at night, and many feel they cannot handle all their caregiving responsibilities.
Health Consequences for Women Caregivers.
- Female caregivers (who comprise about two-thirds of all unpaid caregivers) fare worse than their male counterparts, reporting higher levels of depressive and anxiety symptoms and lower subjective well-being, life satisfaction, and physical health than male caregivers.
There is a dramatic increase in the risk of mental health consequences among women who provide 36 or more hours per week of care to a spouse.
Caregivers are in worse health.
- Caregivers have lower levels of subjective well-being and physical health than non-caregivers. In 2005, three-fifths of caregivers reported fair or poor health status, one or more chronic conditions, or a disability, compared with one-third of non-caregivers. Caregivers also reported chronic conditions (including heart attack/heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis) at nearly twice the rate of non-caregivers (45 vs. 24%).
- Caregivers suffer from increased rates of physical ailment, increased tendencies to develop severe illness, and have high levels of obesity.
- The physical stress of caregiving can affect the caregiver’s physical health, especially when caring for someone who cannot transfer themselves out of bed, walk, or bathe without assistance. Ten percent of primary caregivers report that they are physically strained.
Caregivers have lower levels of personal self-care.
- Caregivers are less likely to engage in preventive health behaviors.
- Nearly three-quarters (72%) of caregivers reported that they had not gone to the doctor as often as they should, and more than half (55%) had missed doctor’s appointments.
- Caregivers’ self-care suffers because they lack the time and energy to prepare proper meals or exercise. About six in ten caregivers in a national survey reported that their eating (63%) and exercising (58%) habits are worse than before.
- Caregivers in rural areas are at a more significant disadvantage for having their own medical needs met due to difficulty getting to the hospital and doctor.
Caregivers pay the ultimate price with providing care.
- Elderly spousal caregivers (aged 66-96) who experience caregiving-related stress have a 63% higher mortality rate than non-caregivers of the same age.
There is no requirement to own a plan to pay for ‘activities of daily living,’ why have the conversation about long-term care benefits?
1. Caregiving means daily living activities, which means you will someday transition from an active lifestyle to needing assistance with daily living activities.
2. You have choices. You and your family may use your resources or telephone or write to your Health Insurer, Medicare, Veterans Benefits, or other social services to ask how and where they will pay for your caregiving.
3. Owning an LTC plan allows you and your family to decide where and with whom you want assistance with your daily living activities.
4. LTC benefit payments paid to you or a care agency are not subject to income taxes.
5. If you are a Corporation, Partnership, or LLC, some or all of your premiums may be deductible.