In the past, Americans relied on family members to take care of aging parents or grandparents. You’d build a small apartment onto your suburban house if you could, or move Mom or Dad into the spare bedroom. Today, families are facing a different kind of late-life care picture, and it requires a different approach.
As baby boomers age, says an article from The Wall Street Journal, Americans will find themselves in need of care, with far fewer caregivers available. In “U.S. Is Running out of Caregivers,” a picture of aging in America emerges with a number of serious challenges.
One is financial - Social Security increases are immediately consumed by increases in Medicare, retirement savings are spare at best, and many boomers have stretched themselves thin, taking on their kid’s college costs and helping their own parents.
The other is demographics: You’ve likely heard this number before: every day, 10,000 Americans turn 65. In 2020, there will be 56 million Americans who are 65 and older. And with a large number of Americans now single-adult households because of divorce, adult children who live far away and an expected increasing demand on private home health aides, caregiving is going to face a serious crunch.
So, what can you do?
- Create a network of friends – consider leaving a single-family home to live in multi-family housing, preferably with sociable neighbors who are willing to look out for each other.
- Get involved with a faith-based or community organization that offers services and social activities for your age group.
- If you haven’t already done so, purchase long-term care insurance to help with any long-term care costs.
- If you can, move to live closer to children or other family members. That’s not easy, but it may prove life-saving in the long run.
- Look into programs run by the National Volunteer Caregiving Network, which serves nearly 400,000 Americans annually and helps them stay in their own homes.
- Consider bringing your ex-spouse back into your life, if that is feasible. It may lighten the load for your children, for example, if your ex- is in a nursing home with dementia and there’s no one else to visit him.
- Your estate planning and elder law attorney should be able to tap into a network of geriatric care agencies, public and privately funded, that can help.
Especially if you are single and don’t have a built-in caregiver (aka, your spouse) or children, start thinking about what the next decade will bring, and plan for your later years. Make an estate plan as well as a caregiving plan. Your estate planning and elder law attorney will be able to help.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, June 21-22, 2018, “U.S. Is Running out of Caregivers”