Here’s the thing about statistics: no two studies on one subject will ever reveal identical numbers. In fact, important as they are, the results are subjective. Datasets should, however, reveal similarities. There’s one area where the numbers have been consistent for years: long term care in America.
There are about 12 million elderly or disabled Americans who rely on long term care for a number of needs, from eating and taking medication to housework and ensuring there are no missed doctor’s appointments.
Here’s a statistic that may surprise you: around 40 percent of those who rely on long term care are younger than 65. What’s not surprising is that the number of older Americans who will require this type of care is expected to double over the next several years. Remember, three years ago, baby boomers began retiring in ever-increasing numbers. Every day for the next 18 years, we will see an additional 8,000 Americans reach their retirement age of 65.
Not only that, but we’re living far longer than our grandparents. Between the increasing number of Americans reaching 65 and the fact that we’re living longer, it’s going to be challenging to meet those needs.
From a medical perspective, despite the breakthroughs in dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, there is still no cure. For those older than 85, a whopping 40 percent of them are showing signs of these and other neurological disorders. By 2050, the annual number of new cases of Alzheimer’s is projected to more than double.
Clearly, the system our country has in place today is woefully lacking and as time marches on, unless a fix is found, it’s going to become a crisis.
The obvious fix is to simply buy long term care insurance. That’s sage advice, but what about those who wait until they’re nearing retirement before purchasing these policies? Many will find it unaffordable. One solution that’s been kicked to Congress for consideration is offering refundable tax credits for those who need and purchase these policies. Other suggestions include stronger community based services.
Increasing the number of caregivers is a must; but it’s challenging for many. These challenges might be overcome by offering incentives for young people who consider elder care as a career. Many caregivers today are family members who are also holding down full time jobs and raising their own families. It can be stressful for the entire family.
In 2009, family caregiving was worth $450 billion, according to American Progress. Many believe that empowering workers to feel as though they can take a leave of absence without repercussions is vital. It can allow adult children to take the needed time off to care for an elderly parent.
To be sure, the problem has already arrived. For those wishing to be proactive in their efforts, long term care policies are more affordable if you buy them when you’re younger. The reality is there are no sure fire solutions; perhaps, a combination of several solutions could be as close to a cure-all we can hope for.
To learn more about long term care for your elderly loved ones or to discuss your financial solutions after retirement, contact DeBruyckere Law Offices today.