This week, Kristen, the Elder Economic Security Initiative intern, continues the discussion around family care giving by spotlighting a new book on the issue.
The percentage of Americans over age 65 has tripled during the 21st century, but support and funding for this group has not kept pace. The book When the Time Comes: Families with Aging Parents Share Their Struggles and Solutions, by Paula Span, sheds light on this population by telling stories of adult children grappling with the difficult decisions surrounding their parents’ long-term care.
The book gives personal perspectives on long-term care, including home care and facilities. It offers insight for each choice and exposes the emotional and financial burdens that many incur during this transition.
Although the book goes into detail about the struggles that adult children, most often daughters, face when choosing long-term care, Span and others believe that its overall message is hopeful.“If you get depressed about the way things are going in the world, just look at the people caring for their family members… there’s nothing they won’t do!” commented David Ekerdt, director of the Gerontology Center at the University of Kansas.
Caring for a family member, however, should not necessitate financial struggles.
Because the majority of seniors wish to age in their communities, the Elder Economic Security Standard™ Index (Elder Index) illustrates the cost of home and community-based long-term care, and the findings show these expenses can be quite burdensome. For instance, the Minnesota Elder Index shows that home and community-based long-term care can range from $7,262 to $43,798 per year. These costs are in addition to elders’ monthly expenses for basic needs, which can double or triple their total expenses.
On average, Medicaid dollars can support about three older people with home and community-based services (HCBS) for every one person in a nursing home, according to AARP. Adjusting the Medicaid support for HCBS versus institutions can help ensure that more elders can afford to age in their communities. This is an important and growing population that deserves to age with dignity, and spreading information about long-term care could help start a dialogue for improving their support!