The Long-Term Care Conundrum
As we get older, we have to start facing the stark reality that our bodies are not going to last forever. A side effect of the health crisis in America is that many older folks will need someone to help take care of them at some point.
Obesity is a major contributing factor to this health crisis. In 1985, no state in the U.S. had an obesity rate above 15 percent; now every state's is higher than 20. Excess weight can lead to all sorts of health conditions, such as diabetes, heart problems, high blood pressure, and even some types of cancer.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Aging, many people over the age of 65 will eventually need some assistance when it comes to daily living tasks. This includes eating and dressing, as well as simple things like making sure you bathe.
The averages quoted are that in the United States men will probably need assistance for an average of 2.2 years. Women, however, need it for longer at 3.7 years. More than 30 percent of us will end up spending some time in a nursing home or facility. 40 percent of Americans use paid care at home rather than leaning on family for free. This can be expensive. The median annual cost of a home health aide is almost $60,000! At $20.40 per hour, it works out to just over $4,900 a month! If you need skilled nurse care, you are looking at shelling out a whopping $79,200 a year, according to reports.
The cost of care is not limited to just big bills from assistance and caregivers. Being cared for by family has a cost as well. It might seem free, but their time equates to money as well. AARP suggests that in some states like Tennessee, there are 1.6 million people caring for family and loved ones. They report that a million hours of help are provided every year.
When we take a look at the whole country, we see how much time is being spent and how much that equates to. Family Caregiver Alliance says that in 2016, 10 million caregivers lost an estimated $3 trillion in wages, pensions, retirement funds, and benefits.
Women who left the workforce early because of caregiving responsibilities lost a massive $142,693.
Getting older comes with many challenges. Attack the problem from both directions. Do everything you can to stay fit and healthy, and put a long-term care policy in place so that if you are in need of care, your costs are covered.
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