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Being a caregiver is not easy. Being a family caregiver is even more difficult as you had the family connection to the physical burden of helping a person with Long-Term Care and activities of daily living. Since more people are living to older ages, more family members, usually daughters and daughters-in-law, become the default caregiver in the absence of any advance plan. This juggling of responsibilities by the caregiver often leads to depression and other health issues.  

Richard Schulz, Ph.D. and Paula R. Sherwood, Ph.D., RN, CNRN note in an article in The American Journal of Nursing, state, “Clinical observation and early empirical research showed that assuming a caregiving role can be stressful and burdensome. Caregiving has all the features of a chronic stress experience: It creates physical and psychological strain over extended periods of time, is accompanied by high levels of unpredictability and uncontrollability, has the capacity to create secondary stress in multiple life domains such as work and family relationships, and frequently requires high levels of vigilance. Caregiving fits the formula for chronic stress so well that it is used as a model for studying the health effects of chronic stress.”   

According to the American Psychological Association family caregivers play a critical role in our health and long-term care system by providing a significant proportion of the care for both the chronically ill and aging.  

Who Are Family Caregivers and What Services Do They Provide?   

  • A typical family caregiver in the U.S. is female, approximately 46 years old, has at least some college experience, and spends an average of 20 hours or more per week providing unpaid care to someone 50 or older. However, the proportion of caregivers who are men is also substantial (NAC & AARP, 2004). 
  • Rates of caregiving can vary somewhat by ethnicity. Among the U.S. adult population, approximately one-fifth (21%) of both the Caucasian and African-American populations are providing informal care, while a slightly lower percentage of Asian-Americans (18%) and Hispanic-Americans (16%) are family caregivers (NAC & AARP, 2004). 
  • Duties of caregivers are usually full time and include, but are not limited to: cooking, cleaning, bathing, medical care adherence monitoring, errand running (grocery shopping, transportation to appointments) and other activities of daily living (ADLs). 
  • Family caregivers who provide care for individuals with Alzheimer's disease often provide more ADL assistance than non-Alzheimer's caregivers due to the impairments of the care recipient (Alzheimer's Association, 2004).


Impact on the Caregiver is Tremendous   

  • Caregivers report increased physical ailments as compared to non-caregivers (Roth, Haley, Owen, Clay, & Goode, 2001), that include, but are not limited to, chronic pain such as headaches and backaches (Wight, LeBlanc, & Aneshensel, 1998), and weakened immune systems (Shewchuk, Richards, & Elliott, 1998). Over time, caregiving may erode one's subjective experience of health (Wight et al., 1998). 
  • Caregiving can also have significant consequences on mental health. When compared to their non-caregiving counterparts, family caregivers report higher levels of stress/distress, depression, emotional problems, and cognitive problems (Brehaut et al., 2004; Douglas & Daly, 2003). 
  • Estimates suggest that between 40 to 70 percent of caregivers have clinically significant symptoms of depression, with approximately one-fourth to one-half of these caregivers meeting the diagnostic criteria for major depression (Zarit, 2006). 
  • Caregivers who experience strain in care provision have the greatest physical and psychological health effects, including symptoms of depression; higher levels of anxiety; and inadequate time for sleep, self-care, and other health related activities (Schulz, Mittelmark, Burton, Hirsch, & Jackson; Schulz & Beach, 1999). In fact, strained caregivers had a 63 percent greater chance of death within 4 years as compared to non-caregivers (Schulz & Beach, 1999). 
  • Female caregivers fare worse than their male counterparts, reporting higher levels of depressive and anxiety symptoms and lower levels of subjective well-being, life satisfaction, and physical health than male caregivers (Miller & Cafasso, 1992; Pinquart & Sorensen, 2006; Yee & Schulz, 2000). 
  • Family caregivers also face financial burdens, as estimated caregiver out-of-pocket expenses are, on average, $2,400 per year to help care recipients (AARP, 2007). Further, family caregivers can experience loss in wages and other work related benefits due to changes in work patterns (AARP, 2007). 

Family caregivers suffer from depression in great numbers. This article reviews the symptoms of depression and the reason family caregivers suffer from depression:  

You might be like many “sandwich generation” members who in addition to your own careers and family responsibilities deal with being a full-time or part-time caregiver for an older parent. Understand the impact on you, the caregiver, is critical to your own health and well-being. This experience, and the experience of so many other people, should require you to ask yourself what have you done to make sure this burden is not placed on your family.  

Affordable Long-Term Care Insurance provides resources for quality caregivers in the settings you get to choose. In addition, it reduces the burdens placed on family members by the consequences of long-term care. This is why so many people are adding Long-Term Care Insurance to their retirement plan well before they retire.  

These policies will safeguard assets like your 401(k) IRA 403(b) and other savings from the financial costs and burdens of aging. Many states offer partnership plans which provide additional asset protection. Many experts suggest working with a specialist before you retire to find the most affordable options including shared spousal benefits, partnership plans and case management which help the family find and arrange for care on your behalf. 

Long-Term Care will impact you, your family, your savings and your lifestyle. LTC insurance will protect your savings and allow the family to be family. This peace-of-mind will be an important part of your planning.

Posted: July 27th 2017

With recent news on healthcare, it isn’t a surprise more people are now aware that health insurance does not pay for most long-term care services. Neither does Medicare and Medicare Supplements beyond the 100 days of skilled care it will pay for. The fact is a majority of long-term care is custodial and health insurance, Medicare and Medicare Supplements will not pay for any long-term custodial care at all. This means you will fund the costs of such care or your family will be forced to be caregivers.

The American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, a national consumer education and advocacy group, the number of consumers requesting information and costs for long-term care insurance increased nearly 39 percent for the first six months of 2017 compared to the prior year.

"This is a significant increase and an indication of enormous growing interest among consumers in the importance of long term care planning," states Jesse Slome, director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI).

Slome attributes the double-digit increase in interest to a good economy among aging Baby Boomers and a growing realization that government programs and medical insurance do not cover much of the cost associated with long-term care.

"This is a good trend because everything begins with awareness and interest," Slome noted.

Slome says a significant percentage of those requesting information are already in poor health. He says they mistakenly believe they can obtain long-term care insurance after their health is poor. People need long-term care services due to illness, accidents or the impact of aging.

"Unfortunately, they cannot health qualify for insurance offered by private carriers.  In certain states, they may be able to get a short-term care insurance policy and we are seeing growth in sales of these policies where available," Slome noted.

“I’ve seen a big increase in interest as well as traffic to my website and calls coming into the office from all over the country has increased substantially not just in the past six months but really in the past three years,” said Matt McCann, a nationally known long-term care expert.

McCann says he can often find affordable coverage but it helps to start planning before you retire.He notes working with a specialist will help a consumer find the appropriate coverage based on their age and health.

These policies pay benefits for all types of extended care either at home, adult daycare, assisted living, memory care and nursing home care.

The AALTCI says while the average age of new applicants for long-term care insurance continues to decline, a significant percentage of people requesting information have aged-out of their ability to obtain coverage.

"Today the average age for new policies issued is 55,” said Slome.

“These policies are very affordable when design correctly. You just have to sit down and learn your options, ideally before you retire when you enjoy better health and qualify for discounts and the most affordable options,” McCann noted.

Experts also note that many people are not aware that most states have partnership plans available which provide additional asset protection when you have a qualified long-term care policy. Plus, the AALTCI also noted more people are taking advantage of tax incentives which are available.

Posted: July 18th 2017

New research, presented at a recent conference in London, looks at how stress and dementia are related. Just one stressful event early on in life could cause the brain to age by as much as four years, scientists say, as this fresh research points to such stress contributing to the risk of dementia. Rates of stress were found to be 60% higher among African Americans and these events predicted cognitive abilities even more than traditional risk factors such as age, education and genetics.

Read full article here:

As we age, no matter what our racial or financial background might be, an advance plan for the financial costs and burdens of aging should be part of your retirement planning. Affordable Long-Term Care Insurance will provide the tax-free resources for quality caregivers, either at home or in a facility, without wiping out your hard-earned savings. In addition, LTC insurance will reduce the burdens placed on family members when you will need help with activities of daily living or supervision due to memory loss from the many types of dementia we may suffer from in the future. Often, this burden falls on the lap of a daughter or daughter-in-law when no advance plan exists.

Experts suggest you start shopping for long-term care insurance before you retire so you can take advantage of the most affordable options and discounts.

Posted: July 17th 2017

Most people understand that aging has become a problem. Yes, increased lifespan creates additional health issues and financial issues and should be addressed and planned for in advance. With longevity comes the increased risk of dementia. 47.5 million people across the world are living with dementia. It’s a global epidemic that costs 604 billion US dollars each year. Alzheimer’s  is the one most people are aware of, however, there are eight other forms of dementia which impact humans as we age. Plus, sometimes we face memory loss at younger ages as well.

The costs for supervision and other long-term care created by dementia places a tremendous physical, emotional and financial burden on American families.

Read about the other types of dementia:

This is why addressing the financial costs and burdens of aging as part of your retirement plan – before you retire – is key to a successful future retirement. Affordable Long-Term Care Insurance will protect your savings including your 401(k) IRA 403(b) and other assets from the high costs of extended care.

People need long-term care due to illnesses, accidents or the impact of aging. Memory loss is a major reason why many people require care. LTC insurance will also ease the burdens placed on family members due to the consequences of long-term care. Often, these burdens fall on daughters and daughters-in-law.

Experts suggest reviewing your Long-Term Care Insurance options before you retire as premiums and availability are based on age, health and the benefits you want. Most states have partnership plans available which provide additional dollar-for-dollar asset protection. Plus, some states have tax incentives as well. Federal tax breaks are available to some people including the self-employed.

Posted: July 14th 2017