The long-term care environment today calls for some out-of-the box thinking in regards to housing options for the aging population during end-of-life. I’m not quite sure what that looks like, but I do know it will require some innovative family brain storming. I also know it needs to be thought of now, instead of when the “silver wave” comes barreling through. The government, most likely, will not be equipped to handle the majority of individuals as they age out of life. At least, not in the U.S. The costs for long-term care are set to grow to alarming amounts in the U.S. and other countries who house a large aging population.
Currently, a good amount of U.S. seniors have limited retirement savings and many are under the assumption that the government will take care of them as they transition. I’m sorry to disclose this reality, but a senior simply cannot survive on government assistance and social security alone. Period. The cost of living in cities has become hyper-inflated and reasonable housing options are almost non-existent. Only highly paid millennials can afford most major cities with hopes of living a one-stop life. Additionally, the gas alone for trips back and forth to doctors in rural areas is the equivalent to the cost of living in cities.
Not only that, but long-term care facilities (nursing homes) are merging, privatizing and options for aging individuals have become few and fewer. Insurance companies, and other big business model hospitals, continue merging hospitals under their own umbrella networks. These health care monopolies have pretty colors and savvy marketing teams. They boast having their own network of doctors, specialists and providers to care for all of your loved one’s needs. I won’t even get into the ratio of people to practicing doctors, or what Hospitalists are. Bottom line, this is a very small snippet of a senior’s aging reality. It doesn’t resemble the fancy commercials at all.
To offset long-term care costs, families are having some hard and transparent financial conversations. Many feel it’d be most beneficial, for everyone, to combine all financial efforts, and to bring parents AND children under one roof. How is this potentially beneficial? Aging parents with chronic health issues will need assistance daily. The assistance will either come from someone out of the home, or someone who is a family member.
It usually looks like this. Out of pocket or government subsidized in-home care is a person who is skilled at basic medical delivery contracted through an outside agency, to provide in-home care for an aging individual. Typically, the person’s need is assessed and a specific allotted time (hours) will be suggested for the individual. This usually takes place between the insurance provider and the family member and individual’s doctor. Or, if someone is paying privately, they’ll work directly with the home care provider.
The amount of care is almost always the bare minimum of hours (unless one can afford 24 hour care), and usually direct caregivers, family members or a senior’s close friends make up the difference in task relate caregiving needs in the persons home.
In the end, it goes back to starting conversations with loved ones about how we want to age. The 70 year old today is different than the 70 year old ten years ago. People who are securely aging on one end of the financial spectrum are finding themselves quickly on reverting to square one. People are just generally living longer and with it, requiring more care.
The U.S. and other high aging Countries need to rethink what aging looks like from a micro-perspective. Some things to potentially consider are tax deductions for caregivers that are similar to parents of young children. We’re seeing a reverse in the aging population similar to the movie paradigm in the movie Benjamin Button. If I had a quarter for every time I heard a child say of their loved one, “I feel like the parent now!”…well, I’d be a lot closer to my retirement goals!