Planning for long-term care is difficult enough even when you have a child or spouse to help out. But not having anyone to rely on will add more pressure to an individual’s later stage of life. Even my parents didn’t want to be a burden on me or my siblings, but in the end we were their “senior care” support. The family is the backbone of elder care today in the America.
The National Caregiver Alliance says there are 65 million people in the U.S. who provide care for an aged, a chronically ill, or a physically challenged family member or friend during any given year. In 2010, the number of caregivers for a person over 80 was seven to one. That number shrinks to four to one in 2030, and three to one by 2050.
The sum of adult children caregivers does not sustain the growing demand to help the old and frail. As the boomers age, the number of family caregivers will take a dive.
The single people living alone have more to worry about than just growing frail. What happens if one develops a form of dementia, or breaks a limb? My sisters and I face this dilemma, but so do many of our friends and kinfolks. Most of us live with one or more of the following predicaments:
We never married
We never remarried
Children live away
Or we have no children
If you fall in one or more of these categories, here’s how to manage old age:
Adopt a (trusted) friend or family who lives near and assign part of your will to them. Get advice from an elder law attorney before taking this step.
Negotiate long-term care with the nieces and nephews.
Live in a joint household of trusted “extended” family members and friends and help one another.
Find an elder law attorney who specializes in chronic care advocacy.
Get a will, a living will or other advance directive, a health care proxy, power of attorney and consider long-term care insurance. Check out the Five Wishes website.
Learn the local transportation options—before you’re required to stop driving.
Get a hobby, eat healthy, make friends, attend church, join a support group, and the senior center.
Check with the local Department of Aging to understand your long-term care support and service options.
If you have access to the Internet, get to know these organizations:
Family Caregiver Alliance, caregiver.org, (800) 445-8106.
National Family Caregivers Association, nfcacares.org, (800) 896-3650.
The suggestions outlined here require research, due diligence and the advice of an elder law attorney. It’s important to make preparations before decline. Proper planning adds an element of dignity to the elderly years.
Carol Marak helped her parents with long-term care concerns. If you have a question or need help, visit SeniorCare.com and complete the contact form on the site. The address is http://www.seniorcare.com/ or http://www.seniorcare.com/about/contact.php.