Giving long-term care to a family member is an experience that touches a majority of Americans, especially here in Southwest Florida. November is National Caregivers Month, and new study is revealing the financial and emotional impact on those who provide care.
The study, released by Merrill Lynch, found that 91 percent of caregivers in Florida provide financially for their loved one. As baby boomers retire and lifespans increase, more and more adult children are discovering that they have to care long-term for their parents. Nationwide over 40 million caregivers spend $190 billion per year on adult care.
According to Mitch McLendon, a Naples-area Merrill Lynch advisor, caregivers in 2017 can often be financially strained by being sandwiched between two generations, simultaneously caring for their parents while also providing for millennial children who stay home. McLendon said that while it can be difficult to have a discussion with aging parents, it can save a lot of trouble down the road.
“This is the parent becoming the child and the child becoming the parent, but it is a necessary conversation that people need to have with their parents to find out if they are going to be obligated to help through those years,” said McLendon.
In McLendon’s experience, women are more likely to plan ahead for their own long-term care because they are more likely to have served as a caregiver themselves. Study data bares that out, showing that women will on average spend six years of their life as caregivers where as men will on average spend four.
There are a few different options for those looking to financially prepare for their own care. If an individual is wealthy enough they can self-insure by creating a large enough savings, but most people will be looking at a long-term care insurance policy. Holders of those policies, however, are experiencing a sharp increase in premiums.
“One of the big issues we have seen in recent years is that as the large insurance carriers are incurring higher expenses due to cognitive disorders, like Alzheimer’s and dementia, they are passing on those higher costs to their policy owners in the cost of higher premiums,” said McLendon. “We’ve seen premium increase of 30 percent over the course of a three or four-year period.”
Despite the financial and emotional cost, the study showed that 91 percent of caregivers said that they were grateful they could provide care, and 77 said they would gladly do so again. Of those questioned, 61 percent said that the greatest benefit of caregiving was feeling like they had done the right thing.
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