Who is Caring for Our Elderly?
The “elderly” portion of retirement is the phase that is past travel, golf, shopping, piggyback rides and puzzles on the floor with the grandkids. It can often consist of isolation, loneliness and boredom — possibly compounded by the inability to drive, take a walk or even hear loved ones talk on the phone. Many continue living as their siblings and friends pass away, which can contribute to feelings of depression and listlessness.
Seniors who live alone often welcome ways to break up the monotony, such as responding to phone calls or a knock at the door by a stranger. This makes them more vulnerable to falling for lottery or sweepstake scams and “promising” investment opportunities.
Despite these drawbacks, more and more elderly people prefer to live out their years in their own homes. However, it’s important to recognize that adjustments should be made to support this scenario, and it’s better to start earlier rather than later so they get used to having in-home help. For example, elderly parents who resolve to live at home will likely need some degree of help with basic household chores, such as:
- Cooking and preparing meals
- Cleaning and maintaining the home
- Shopping and buying necessities
- Running errands
- Managing money and paying bills
- Speaking on the phone or through other devices
- Taking prescribed medications
According to a study by Merrill Lynch, 40 million Americans are currently caregivers who provide assistance to nearly 50 million adults.1 Instead of enjoying middle age, many members of Generation X and baby boomers are surprised to find their days are filled with responding to the needs of elderly parents. The question becomes: Where can you find caregiver help so you can start to enjoy more of your golden years before possibly slipping into that situation yourself?
And beyond where you can find help, how will you pay for that care? We can help you and your parents evaluate a variety of life insurance and annuity products that offer benefits to assist with the costs of long-term care. If you’d like to learn more, please contact us.
The Institute on Aging reports that today’s average unpaid caregiver is a married, 46-year woman who holds a job earning about $35,000 a year.2 This demographic faces a dilemma that is similar to when they first started a family: Should an adult child give up her job to care for elderly parents? Given the fact that these are important years to aggressively save for retirement, that prospect can create a serious financial setback for the household.
If you’re looking for outside help for caregiving needs, consider the following resources:3
- Work-sponsored Employer Assistance Program (EAP)
- Local Council on Aging
- Meals on Wheels
- Senior transportation services
- A personal emergency-response system device
- 24-hour in-home video monitoring system
A growing immigrant population represents a sizeable share of workers in the caregiving industry. Specifically, immigrants in 2017 accounted for:4
- 2 percent of health-care workers
- 5 percent of formal and informal long-term care workers
- 5 percent of direct-care workers
- 3 percent of nursing home housekeeping and maintenance workers
Among unauthorized immigrants working in the health care industry, 43.2 percent are employed in long-term care settings. While unauthorized immigration to the U.S. has been on the decline for many years, the current administration’s desire to focus on allowing entry to “skilled immigrants” could significantly reduce the number of low-wage workers that the caregiving sector desperately needs.5
For parents who don’t want a stranger milling about their home, you might consider a high-tech robot caregiver. While pricey, many caregiving robots offer Siri/Alexa type services to help answer questions and acquire information, dial phone calls to loved ones and emergency services, and even use artificial intelligence to engage in conversation, so the elderly person doesn’t feel so alone.6
Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.
1 Merrill Lynch. Oct. 2017. “The Journey of Caregiving: Honor, Responsibility and Financial Complexity.” https://mlaem.fs.ml.com/content/dam/ML/Registration/family-and-retirement/ML_Caregiving_WP_v02g.pdf. Accessed June 10, 2019.
2 Angela Stringfellow. Caregiver Homes. March 23, 2018. “The State of Caregiving 2018.” https://blog.caregiverhomes.com/stateofcaregiving. Accessed June 10, 2019.
3 AARP. June 2017. “Prepare To Care.” https://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/caregiving/2018/02/prepare-to-care-guide-english-aarp.pdf?intcmp=AE-HF-CAR-P2CGD-ENG. Accessed June 10, 2019.
4 Leah Zallman, Karen E. Finnegan, David U. Himmelstein, Sharon Touw and Steffie Woolhandler. Health Affairs. June 2019. “Care For America’s Elderly And Disabled People Relies On Immigrant Labor.” https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/full/10.1377/hlthaff.2018.05514. Accessed June 10, 2019.
6 Luke Dormehl. Digital Trends. June 1, 2019. “The promise and pitfalls of using robots to care for the elderly.” https://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/robots-caregiving-for-the-elderly/. Accessed June 11, 2019.
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