Planning for retirement is difficult because everyone is chasing an uncertain and changing target. Money needs to last longer and cover more as a result of people living longer. As family members age or become ill, loved ones are often forced to make many daunting decision for which they never planned.
Without proper preparation, paying for health care or long-term care, especially when it is unexpected, can deplete a person’s lifetime savings in a few years or even months.
Here are some considerations:
Anticipate Assets- Project what you expect to have in terms of assets and cash flow when you retire. Make sure to include Social Security benefits, pension plan income, money invested in retirement saving plans, and survivorship benefits. When tallying your assets, distinguish between “gross worth” and “net worth.” Focus on net worth, the amount of cash available after liquidating one’s assets and paying taxes and commissions.
Contemplate Medical History- Based on family health history and personal health, project how long you expect to live, and what type of health-related challenges might be reasonable to anticipate.
Factor in Lifestyle- Give consideration to your lifestyle choices (e.g. smoking, alcohol, diet, exercise) and where you plan to live. Make sure to consider if you plan to move when you retire in order to be closer to family or for a change in climate.
Consider Living and Care Arrangements- Assess the various living environments and care options (medical and non-medical) to get an idea of the costs you might incur. Also, let family members know your preferences so they are in a position to carry out your wishes when changes are needed.
Project Expenses- Develop a best-guess budget, taking into consideration everyday expenses, projected lifestyle, liabilities (e.g. outstanding mortgage, care loans and other debt), anticipated health care and long-term care costs, prescription drugs, and more. Also, make sure to factor in travel, new cares and gourmet dining, which can be long-denied luxuries that many people treat themselves to in their retirement years.
Make Changes- Compare the projected assets and cash flow with the projected expenses and liabilities to determine at what point in time outliving your assets may become a concern. Make changes as necessary, such as increasing savings or reducing current expenses.
Seek Professional Advice- Be aware that there are many financial and legal options and strategies. Addressing one’s affairs and wishes can be quite personal. Make sure to work with legal and financial professionals who are reputable and trustworthy. Also, make sure to review your retirement plans and legal documents every couple of years, or sooner, based on life changes.
To learn more about Home Helpers, click HERE.
Informal caregivers and family caregivers are unpaid individuals
such as family members, friends and neighbors who provide care to a person in need of help: a husband who has suffered a stroke; a wife with ALS; a mother-in-law with cancer; a grandfather with Alzheimer’s disease.. These individuals can be primary or secondary caregivers, full time or part time, and can live with the person being cared for or live separately. Formal caregivers are volunteers or paid caregivers who are trained and associated with a service system or company such as Home Helpers. The statistics discussed focus on Informal Caregivers.
The Impact on a Caregiver’s Physical Health:
While researchers have long known that caregiving can have harmful mental health effects for caregivers, research shows that caregiving can have serious physical health consequences as well.
Studies have found that caregivers may have increased blood pressure and insulin levels, may have impaired immune systems and may be at increased risk for cardiovascular disease among other adverse health outcomes.
A study of elderly spousal caregivers (aged 66-96) found that caregivers who experience caregiving-related stress have a 63% higher mortality rate than non-caregivers of the same age.
Many caregivers are themselves in poor health; studies show that approximately one-third of caregivers provide intensive care although they are themselves in “fair to poor” physical health.
The Impact on a Caregiver’s Economic Health:
What is the estimated economic value of informal caregiving? If the services provided by informal caregivers (family, friends, neighbors) had to be replaced with paid services, it would cost an estimated $257 billion (in 2000 dollars).
Studies suggest that the cost of informal caregiving in terms of lost productivity to U.S. businesses is $11 to $29 billion annually.
As a result of their caregiving, informal caregivers are estimated to each lose an average of $25,494 in Social Security benefits, an average of $67,202 in pension benefits and an average of $566,433 in wage wealth. Combined, the result is a loss of $659,139 over a lifetime.
Long-distance caregivers spend an average of $392/month on travel and out-of-pocket expenses as part of their caregiving duties.
The Mental and Emotional Impact:
The less income a caregiver has, the more stress he or she is likely to experience.
Particularly stressful caregiving situations may put caregivers at risk of engaging in harmful behaviors towards care recipients. One study has shown that spousal caregivers who are at risk of clinical depression and are caring for a spouse with significant cognitive impairment and/or physical care needs are more likely to engage in harmful behavior towards their loved one.
While caregiving can be a very stressful situation for many caregivers, studies also show that there are beneficial effects, including feeling positive about being able to help a disabled spouse, feeling appreciated by the care recipient, and feeling that their relationship with the care recipient had improved.
If you or someone you know needs respite from caregiving, click HERE to learn how we can help!
For more statistics, click here: http://www.caregiver.org/caregiver/jsp/content_node.jsp?nodeid=439
As we grow older and need help with the activities of daily living, many of us depend on a stronger, healthier spouse for assistance. Doing so may allow a couple to stay together and “age in place” in their own home. Unfortunately, many elder caregivers fail to realize how challenging and stressful such a responsibility can be -- especially if the one being cared for is suffering from some level of dementia and requires constant monitoring.
If you are a caregiving spouse, please consider the following suggestions to maintain your ability to care for a loved one:
- Don’t hesitate to ask your children for help. Most children want to help, but don’t offer because they believe it when Mom or Dad tells them everything’s just fine. Even if children are a distance away, they can contribute in many ways that will lessen the load of caregiving.
- Keep your spouse involved with decisions about his or her care, but don’t ignore the affect on you. For example, the best setting for rehabilitation after a stroke could be an acute-care rehab hospital, skilled nursing facility, or in your own home, with or without home healthcare. How would each option affect you? If your spouse goes to a facility, do you have transportation so you can visit regularly? Are you up to the physical demands of caregiving? What help will you need if your spouse stays at home?
- Give yourself permission to have time for yourself. Find adult daycare centers; or ask for relief from family, friends, neighbors, or faith families; or check respite care providers for rates (interview several individuals for someone who’s compatible with your loved one). Then enjoy your “me time” – take a walk, have lunch with a friend, get a massage or haircut, window shop or do anything that has nothing to do with caregiving!
- Take care of your own health. It’s easy to fall into the trap of neglecting yourself while caring for a spouse. Remind yourself that it will not help your spouse if you become ill, too.
- Prepare yourself for the difficult day your spouse may eventually need 24-hour monitoring, specialized medical or nursing care, or can no longer transfer from bed to chair or toilet – and you will need to consider professional home care assistance or a change in living arrangements. Be aware that if your spouse becomes violent, due to some types of dementia, you may not have the skills needed to manage his or her behavior, and you may be in danger of injuring yourself.
The times you are under the most stress are the times you will most need your sense of humor to carry you through. Some of the daily activities that you do as a caregiver can be just plain funny. Look for humor in daily events, read funny stories, and remember that laughter is healing. Laugh with your spouse – it will make both of you happier.
For more information:
- National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA), www.nfcacares.org, 1-800-896-3650, supports family caregivers and promotes self-advocacy and self-care.
- Administration on Aging (AoA), www.aoa.org, 1-800-677-1116. Find information on caregiving, including Eldercare Locator that finds local assistance for seniors. Select “search” on the top bar and enter “caregivers for information and additional resources.
Click HERE to learn about respite care.
With the Labor Day weekend rapidly approaching, many of us will be traveling to enjoy our final fling with summer. Before you even think about bringing your elderly parents along for the trip, there are some important things to consider.
It is vital to remember to bring your elderly parent’s prescriptions along for the trip. Keep all medications in their original pill vials for easy identification. Make sure to pack all prescriptions in your carry-on luggage to assure they will end up at the correct destination. It is wise to write down the name of your parent’s doctor, phone number and a brief medical history in the event of an emergency. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can forget vital information during an emergency situation. It’s not a bad idea to bring along the living will as well. Don’t forget any adaptive equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers, and canes.
Before heading out, take your loved one to see his or her doctor. Make sure your elderly parents have enough medication to get them through the trip. A quick check-up will offer assurance that your parent is safe to travel.
The doctor can discuss whether or not air travel is safe. Many people don’t know that airlines will not permit oxygen to be transported either as cargo or with the person who requires it.
Most airports have made special accommodations for elderly passengers by providing free wheelchairs and transportation services to get them from the ticket counter to the gate and back again. Don't misjudge the ability of your elderly relative to hobble through the airport from gate to gate. Even a small distance can wear out someone using a cane or otherwise afflicted with a physical ailment.
People with certain cardiac conditions may also want to discuss air travel with their doctor. Certain medications may also hamper air travel. If air travel is not an option, the doctor can offer safer options for arriving at your destination.
Comfort level is a major point when considering automobile or bus travel. Most tour buses have steps that your loved one will need to climb. Add to that the problem of going to the bathroom in a bouncing, bumpy bus and you may have problems if your parent is unable to keep his/her balance. Car travel has many of the same problems, but you have more control over your own vehicle. Plan your route carefully in order to provide frequent rest stops for your parent to recuperate from the long travel. Be sure to pack food and drink for longer trips, especially if your loved one is diabetic.
Traveling by train has many of the same options offered as air travel such as wheelchair access and attendants ready to assist you and your relative into your train seat. However, be aware that train rides are notoriously hard on people who have back problems. The rocking motion and the length of most train trips don’t help, so anyone with back problems may want to consider other travel options.
Traveling with your elderly parents can be a stress-free experience with a little planning and foresight. Before you know it, you’ll be at your destination, ready to relax!
Are you leaving your elderly parents at home while you travel? Click HERE to learn how we can assure their saftey while you are away.
No child wants to face that their parent is failing and may need professional in-home care. Many times, both the parent who is declining and the child or children faced with making caregiver decisions are in deep denial. Often, the first step in getting care for Mom or Dad is acceptance. Roles easily change and your parent is now the one who needs extra help to stay safely in their home. They may need help with things like grooming, medication reminders, light housekeeping, and companionship.
The sooner a child or loved one can recognize the fact that a care plan needs to be put in place, the safer and happier the elderly parent will be. Many times, the "sandwich generation" who are raising their own kids and trying to help Mom or Dad are overwhelmed and certainly can't do either party justice. Add in working, balancing home life and social activities and it becomes more than enough to handle. Restoring quality of life, independence and safety to an elderly parent is often as simple as reaching out to a quallfied, professional, compassionate in-home service. Professional in-home providers who are trained and experienced in dealing with the special needs of failing seniors, those with dementia or Alzheimers, or those dealing with medical conditions that prohibit mobility are the first step in making this difficult journey easer, safer and afford peace of mind whether you hire the service for 2 days a week or 7 days a week.
Look for a reputable in-home care provider through referrals from trusted advisors like a physician, attorney, geriatric case manager or a close friend or loved who has dealt with the same situation. Most likely, they have as most of us eventually have to do with decling parents or loved ones who need some extra help but most definitely want and need to stay in their home. With the right care plan in place, this can be safely accomplished with peace of mind and confidence on every level.
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