Studies indicate that people over the age of 65 years will need some form of long-term care help. Genworth said sixty-six percent would need extra care while The Inquiry said seven out of ten would need it for at least three years. Most people rely on a family member, a spouse or a partner for help. But what happens when an individual has none of the above? Who can they count on for help in an emergency or when they get sick?
The folks who have children don't want to be a bother either, but at least they have a choice. They may not want to, but older adults rely on family caregivers the most for help. Today, there are over 43 million family members providing some form of elder care for a person 50+ years of age (Family Caregiver Alliance.) But the U.S. Census (2010) reports that 11 million people over the age of 65 live alone, and that number will likely increase. AARP is worried because family members give the majority of long-term care support. And they agree that number is taking a skydive too because 11.6% of women (80 to 84) are childless.
Since adult children are the lifeblood of elder care, and I don't have a child, it's a concern for me. Up until now, I haven't thought too much about it. But since I work in senior care and read the alarming stats of long-term care, it's time I do.
How did so many get through the child-bearing stage and not have one? The Pew Research study says, "The most educated women still are among the most likely never to have had a child." And the baby boomer generation surpasses in childlessness over any other peer group.
The other factors found by Pew Research on this theme:
Today, society has a compliant view of people without children, and many adults no longer believe that those without them "lead empty lives." The population's attitude of us increased to 59% in 2002 from 39% in the late '80's, according to the General Social Survey. Plus, the survey found that children are less significant to a thriving marriage. In 2007, a Pew Research survey unveiled 41% of adults to declare that children are crucial for a successful marriage, a decline from 65% who said so in 1990.
But since the supply of family caregivers diminish, it's prudent for both parties, the haves, and the have-nots, to get organized around their long-term care preferences. Years from now, when you're old and frail, you'll thank me for suggesting it.
Elder Care 101
There are significant facts about aging care that every person must know. First, it's more expensive than you think. And most of the costs of long-term care comes out of your pocket. To help you plan for senior care later on, you must understand the details about the services that are and are not covered.
- Medicare does not pay for long-term custodial care services, the kind that help you with everyday activities of living needs. Medicare only pays for the medically necessary care like acute medical care, doctor visits, drugs, and a hospital stay.
That's the basics. Here are other strategies for an LTC plan, according to me. It improvises for the lack of family members (adult children).
- Draw up legal documents: a will, a living will, a healthcare proxy and a power of attorney.
Please add your ideas and strategies by commenting below. "Growing old isn't for sissies," well said by Bette Davis. And everyone will need all the help and support they can conjure. My hat's off to family caregivers; you're the backbone of our country's long-term care support system. May you multiply!