The Double Whammy of Long-Term Health Care Costs

A recent article from CBS News Money Watch talks about Long-term care expenses from the caregiver’s perspective.  Retirees have been hearing a steady drumbeat of warnings about the threat of high long-term health care expenses. Many articles about long-term care discuss strategies from the perspective of retirees who eventually might need care near the end of their lives. These articles encourage retirees to take responsible steps to pay and arrange for care, so they won’t be a burden on their families or society. This CBS News article turns the issue on its head, however, and considers the caregiver’s perspective: You could be doing everything right regarding your own finances — and then have your plans derailed by the needs of a family member, such as a parent or sibling, who didn’t plan ahead.

A recent study by the Transamerica Institute found that caregiving is risky business for those who step in to help an aging parent or relative. Here are some telling statistics from the study about the potential strains on caregivers:

  • Fifty-two percent are working full or part time.
  • Of these working caregivers, more than three-fourths report making some type of an adjustment to their employment — using sick time or vacation days, working fewer hours or quitting their jobs or retiring.
  • More than one-fourth of working caregivers’ employers have reacted negatively to the workers’ caregiving responsibilities.
  • Caregivers spend a median of $150 per month to cover expenses for the recipient. Almost half of all caregivers (43 percent) say they’re “just getting by” with their finances.
  • More than half (56 percent) say their own health is taking a back seat to the health of their care recipient.

Caregivers also report being unprepared for their roles. Almost half (49 percent) of caregivers perform medical or nursing-related tasks, but only about half of these caregivers learned how to carry out these tasks from hospital or doctor staff. Many caregivers are in need of formal training to perform their caregiving duties, especially those involved in medical or nursing-related tasks.  Without adequate training, they are putting both the care recipient and themselves in harm’s way.

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Written by Legacy Planning Law Group

Legacy Planning Law Group is dedicated to working with individuals and families to help protect the assets they have built throughout their life, and make everything simpler for families who have lost a loved one. We help thoughtful people achieve the peace of mind that comes with planning their personal legacy and passing on family harmony.