In recent columns, we have noted the rising population of soon-to-be retired baby boomers – many of whom are struggling to boost their savings in anticipation of the need for chronic care. According to a recent report from CNBC, the combination of greater life expectancy and the prevalence of conditions like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s is making senior long-term care insurance a necessity for aging individuals. As in many parts of the country, elder care in San Diego can be costly. But is long-term care insurance the best option?
The cost of elder care in the United States has been a concern for aging Americans and their families for years. But now, according to NPR, those costs and related complications are set to become even more burdensome due to the steadily rising number of aging baby boomers in need of medical care and lifestyle support. NPR reports that nearly 78 million baby boomers are in the process of retiring – and while these numbers will initially benefit the economy thanks to added recreation and vacation spending, they will ultimately lead to a massive increase in the number of sick or disabled seniors dependent on costly healthcare.
May is National Geriatric Care Managers Month; and as we take time to recognize and appreciate the hard work of senior care givers throughout the nation, it is also an opportune time to explore the work of geriatric care managers – and to learn when and how these talented professionals may help family caregivers improve health and happiness for aging loved ones.
Families have always coped with the struggles of caregiving; but now, with nearly 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 each day, the need for advanced senior care options is taking center stage in families across the nation. CNN reports that there are currently 43.5 million Americans taking care of someone over age 50, based on information from the Family Caregiver Alliance. And with boomers edging into that over-50 group, many are finding themselves simultaneously providing and requiring care in order to maintain an optimal quality of life.
Caregiving of any kind comes with a fair share of stress; and for those who find themselves coping with aging parents or loved ones and acting as the primary caregiver, these stressors can be particularly acute and emotionally burdensome. But now, it turns out that men are even more vulnerable to eldercare stress than their female counterparts – and incidentally, the number of men taking on caregiving roles for aging family members has doubled over the past 15 years.
Taking care of aging loved ones – be they parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles – is a trying experience, and one for which few of us are innately prepared. Dealing with the complexities of a parent’s age, illness, mental and physical deterioration or even simple lifestyle adjustments can take its toll, and result in anxiety or, in some cases, even opportunistic or abusive behavior on the part of adult children who find themselves suddenly “parenting” their parents. When caring for your aging parents, it is therefore of the utmost importance to seek help at the first opportunity – and to create a trusted network of family, friends, community resources and geriatric care professionals who can be there to provide assistance, guidance, part-time care and financial advice for the sake of both your health and your loved one’s safety and comfort.
According to a recent article in Forbes magazine, an estimated 40-60 million Americans are currently involved in caring for aging loved ones – often without the aid of professional geriatric care managers and, as a result, also facing a unique set of needs and challenges that are predominantly ignored in our current political climate. Yet among the myriad issues raised during recent Occupy protests across the nation, rights for the frail elderly and their caregivers were notably absent. Why? One simple explanation is that caregivers often lack the time, motivation and support necessary to organize on behalf of their peers and aging parents. While there are several groups that do their best to represent caregivers within the political arena, it is often more practical and efficient for individuals struggling with elder care responsibilities to solicit the help of professional caregiving consultants for expert advice and guidance.
The holiday season is a prime opportunity for families to gather together and reconnect. But while many seasonal gatherings are joyous occasions, individuals with aging parents may also encounter certain changes in their loved ones’ health and behavior to cause concern. Such circumstances can be troubling, and pose a difficult situation for children of aging parents as they struggle to determine the best course of action. By combining the following suggestions with custom counsel from a professional geriatric care manager, individuals can broach the topic of their loved ones’ changing health and lifestyle needs with both confidence and compassion.
This year, the Medicare “open enrollment” period began on October 15, and will continue to run through December 7 — constituting a window that falls much earlier than usual, and which subsequently threatens to leave some seniors and their caregivers unprepared. According to NPR, those who rely upon Medicare for health benefits and prescription drugs should be aware not only of the bumped-up enrollment period, but also of other changes to the open season that will impact the breadth and quality of benefits to which members are entitled.
According to recent coverage in Bloomberg Businessweek, the U.S. government has announced that Social Security recipients will receive a 3.6% bump in their benefits beginning in January 2012. The new cost of living adjustment (COLA) marks the first raise for seniors since 2009, when they received a 5.8% increase in benefits; and as stated by AARP executive vice president Nancy LeaMond, the boost is likely to be “welcome news” that will “ease the financial hardship many older Americans face today.”