Who Takes Care of the Caregivers?

October 23, 2012

My first job when I was younger was as the Activities Aide in a local nursing home. I realized then that most of the guests were women who had great stories and wisdom to share with a young girl, but what I didn’t realize was the full story.

Many of these women were alone. Many of these women may have never wanted to be in a nursing home, and many of these women may not have had a choice. That’s not to say that people did not care about them. In fact, caregiving by family members is a rapidly growing experience. A recent AARP study shows that there are about 42.1 million family caregivers in the United States (most of them women ages 40 to 60) providing care to an adult with limitations, and 29% of those caregivers spend 40 hours or more per week providing that care.  This means that about one-third of Americans can list caregiving as an unpaid, full-time job.

I know several families who are faced with the challenge of caring for their aging parents, and my family is no different. As I’ve seen my grandparents age, I’ve attentively watched the impact that it’s had on those I love. Caregiving is a labor of love, but carving time out from your busy schedule, between getting the kids to sports practice, succeeding in your own career, and putting dinner on the table can be a daunting task.

Watching your parents, who may have been your role models and are a large part of your kids’ lives, lose their faculties, take more medications, and require constant attention can have an emotional impact that is hard to handle. Decision making between siblings on such an emotional issue as how they will care for their parents and the delegation of responsibilities can cause strain on what may have once been a strong relationship. So, it stands to reason that among caregivers the biggest complaints are loneliness and isolation. You may be taking care of your parents, but who is taking care of you?

The question of “who is taking care you?” brings us back to those women that I met in the nursing home. As women in their 40s-60s grow older, many of them may get hit by the burden of caregiving again because these same women who are providing care today may ultimately care for their aging husbands as well. The compound physical and emotional impact of caregiving over a lifetime results in a large percentage of women who need care. Yet, nearly half (48%) of women age 75 or older are living alone, compared to less than one quarter (22%) of men, so the challenge becomes finding the resources to get care after you yourself may have given it for so long.  For instance, I recently met a couple who experienced an Alzheimer’s diagnosis on the husband in his early 60s. As they had not yet done their Long-Term Care planning, they will need to pay for his care out of pocket by means of spending down retirement assets.

These assets were designed to provide them income for living expenses. While his wife is in good health and will be able to help with some of his care, the question remains, what if she needs care in the future?

In addition to the emotional and physical consequences of Long-Term Care, it is also important to understand the financial consequences of not planning for these issues. With costs that can be upwards of $7,000-$11,000/month depending upon your location and the type of care needed, this can have a devastating impact on your financial life if you have not planned appropriately.

Recalling my experiences as a young girl working in a local nursing home, as an adult I now have a greater insight into the stories of many of those women, and most importantly to their circumstances. As a Financial Advisor, I have made it my mission to educate others on important topics that impact our lives and the lives of future generations. I have had these conversations with my own family, and I encourage you to understand your options for protecting your family, your assets, and your choice of care by learning about the benefits of Long-Term Care Insurance. While LTC Insurance is not designed to replace family, it can help to offset the cost and burden of care, and for many, will provide the choice of how and where they will receive care. There are several options available to find the proper level of LTC protection, and it is important that you seek the help of a trusted professional to find the right fit for you. It is also critical that you review these options while you are still in good health, so take action today.


Megan K.  McAvoy is a Registered Representative, a Financial Advisor of Park Avenue Securities LLC (PAS) and a Financial Representative of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, NY, supervised from 140 Kendrick Street, C-1 East, Needham, MA 02494. Securities products/services and advisory services offered through PAS, a registered broker-dealer and investment advisor, 781-449-4402. PAS is an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Guardian. The Bulfinch Group is not an affiliate or subsidiary of PAS or Guardian. Life insurance offered through The Bulfinch Group Insurance Agency Inc., an affiliate of The Bulfinch Group, Inc. The Bulfinch Group is not licensed to sell insurance. Neither Guardian nor its subsidiaries issue Long Term Care Insurance.

PAS is a member FINRA, SIPC. GEAR 2012-10017

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2 Responses to Who Takes Care of the Caregivers?

  1. P Skoran on October 23, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    If the proposed settlement of a nationwide class-action suite is approved, Medicare recipients with chronic conditions and disabilities may find it easier to qualify for home health care and skilled nursing. Although it was never part of the federal Medicare law, Medicare policy required that beneficiaries show a likelihood of medical or functional improvement before Medicare would pay for services. Instead, under the settlement, medicare will pay for services if they are needed to “maintain the patient’s current condition or prevent or slow further deterioration,” regardless of whether the patient’s condition is expected to improve. According to the New York Times, Judith Stein, director of the nonprofit Center for Medicare Advocacy, said the proposed settelement could help people with chronic conditions like Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, stroke, spinal injuries and brain injury. It could also provide relief for caregivers who find themselves financially and personally stretched. In many cases, denial of coverage is actually denial of care, because most people cannot afford to pay for these services themselves. This change could actually save the Medicare program money since home health is less costly than hospital care.

    If you are a Medicare beneficiary or will be reaching 65, or if you are a caregiver, it’s important to understand Medicare benefits. For instance, did you know that Medgap plan prices vary widely for the exact same benefits? The Medicare Power Planner guides beneficiaries through the decision process to find the best combination of Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medicare supplements (Medigap) and Medicare prescription drug coverage along with the price of each plan. And, it’s independent of the insurance industry so no insurance agent will call as a result of using the Planner, unless you specifically ask. You can find the Planner at http://medicare.weissratings.com/save-on-medicare

  2. caregiver on January 21, 2013 at 8:12 am

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