Long-term care is an incredibly important consideration for older adults and their families. As America’s population continues to grow older en masse, preparing for long term-care is going to be one of the most crucial things that seniors and family caregivers can do to help safeguard older adults’ health, independence, and carefully guarded nest eggs.
Long-term care is one way to make your golden years truly shine – but it’s important to take steps to prepare for this important care well in advance.
Recent reports indicate that fewer than 30% of adults have had a conversation about long-term care planning. This is one reason why so many myths and misconceptions about long-term care have circulated over the years.
Let’s take a look at three common myths about long-term care. Hopefully, by busting these myths, older adults and caregivers will be empowered to have more meaningful conversations about this important subject:
MYTH #1: “I’m Healthy. I Won’t Ever Need Long-Term Care.”
According to data from the AARP, most Americans “don’t believe they’ll need long-term care.” One prominent study suggests that only 17% of older Americans have planned ahead for their long-term care needs.
As you and your family look ahead to the future, it can be intimidating to think about all of the changes and challenges you may face. With this being said, it’s still incredibly important to plan ahead, and prepare for the good times, and the not-so-good times.
The National Institute on Aging (NIA) once put it succinctly:
“…an unexpected accident, illness, or injury can change your needs, sometimes suddenly. The best time to think about long-term care is before you need it.”
Consider the numbers:
- According to reporting from the US Department of Health and Human Services, about 70 percent of those turning age 65 can expect to use some form of long-term care during their lives.
- Data from the insurance company Nationwide suggests that the odds of requiring long-term care are 1 in 2 for older adults.
- Research cited by Nationwide indicates that the average length of care for older adults outside of a nursing home is about 4.5 years. The Department of Health estimates that women typically need about 3.7 years of care, while the average man requires about 2.2 years. In all, roughly 20% of adults over 65 will need long-term care for more than five years.
Interested in learning more about the realities of long-term care? Here are a few of our other articles and guides on this important subject:
- “When Should You Talk About Long-Term Care With Your Senior Family?”
- “Four Important Things to Consider About Long-Term Care”
MYTH #2: “Long-Term Care Really Only Means Moving Into a Nursing Home.”
Many people have a negative association with long-term care because they believe that receiving care will mean uprooting their lives and moving somewhere new, unfamiliar, and costly.
In reality, there are many, many different types of long-term care available to older adults, many of which are more flexible, accommodating, and affordable than you might have ever thought possible.
Recent reporting from the AARP suggests that nearly 90% of older adults would prefer to age in place, and remain at home as they get older. Today, making that goal a reality is easier than ever before. There are a variety of long-term care resources available to older adults and their families, which are easier to start with and more cost-effective than some of the “old-school” methods your senior loved one might be dreading.
For many individuals and families, one of the most effective and easy solutions is going to be in-home care. Also called home care, or non-medical home care, this arrangement allows older adults to remain in the safety and comfort of home, supported by a companion or caregiver. In most cases, this companion can come on a schedule that works for the senior and their family, ranging from a few hours a week to nearly full-time. An experienced professional caregiver can assist older adults with activities of daily living (ADLs), like grooming, sitting and standing, and dressing, while also lending a hand with meal prep, helping out around the house, and offering driving services. Just as importantly, this caregiver can be a true friend and companion, helping older adults to stay social and keep in close contact with a friendly face they know and trust.
Curious about some of the benefits of home care? Here are a few of our resources on this helpful and flexible senior care method:
- “What Are the Benefits of Non-Medical Home Care?”
- “Five Signs Your Parent Might Be Ready for Home Care”
- “Transitioning from Family Caregiving to Professional Home Care”
MYTH #3: “My Family and Friends Are All the Support I Need.”
Getting older is much easier with the support of family and friends. Many adult children of seniors look at caregiving as a tremendous act of love and affection, and millions of older adults rely on unpaid caregiving services from family members to stay healthy and social.
However, in many cases, older adults are going to need support beyond what family can provide alone.
As many family caregivers can attest, there are often “yellow flags” that emerge in older adults which an untrained caregiver can’t handle alone, including physical, mental, or behavioral changes. Many elderly adults will require a level of care that is simply unrealistic for family members to keep up with on their own. From offering medication reminders, to helping out around the house, to providing transportation to doctor’s appointments – it’s a lot for even the most devoted family member to tackle by themselves. To add to this, many families are now scattered across the country. While long-distance caregiving is certainly achievable, it ultimately often proves less than effective for caregivers, and their older loved ones.
Finally, it’s important to be realistic about what family caregivers can manage without sacrificing their own health and well-being. Many caregivers today are members of the “Sandwich Generation,” meaning that they’re tasked with caring for older loved ones and younger kids, at the same time. Members of this group, and all family caregivers, tend to report higher levels of stress and irritability, increased rates of depression and anxiety, and poorer health habits (such as sleeping well and eating a healthy diet), compared to others.
Bottom line? Caregiving is a lot to tackle alone. Many older adults will eventually require some form of long-term care above and beyond what a family member can (or should) provide – for the sake of the senior’s own health and longevity, and for the well-being of their younger loved ones.
Curious about some of the options that are available to help assist and support family caregivers? Here are some of our guides to help you start your search:
- “My Mom Needs a Break from Watching Her Mom.”
- “Finding the Joy in Caregiving”
- “Caring for a Parent? Here Are Five Ways to Protect Your Own Peace of Mind”
- “Seven Reasons Caregivers and Seniors Can Benefit from Respite Care”
Companions for Seniors Is Here to Help
Are you a supportive family member of an aging adult? Have you started the “long-term care conversation,” but are unsure of where to go next? If you need any guidance on putting a care plan into action, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Companions for Seniors.
Here at Companions for Seniors, our mission is to empower seniors to live independently and with dignity in the comfort of their own homes by helping them to lead an active and enriched lifestyle, connecting them with their community, and nurturing meaningful relationships.
Our Companions are trained, bonded, and insured, and our team can help your family to develop and implement a personalized care plan, all to help seniors and their family caregivers maintain a higher quality of life – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Caring for others isn’t just what we do; it’s our passion. We’re always here to be an open and sympathetic ear, and we’re happy to help guide you in the right direction when it comes to all things long-term care.
Have any questions? Ready to start thinking seriously about long-term care? Don’t hesitate to get in touch today or give us a call at 866-910-9020 to get the conversation started.