• Joshua Crowe, Contributor

  • March 21, 2018 views
  • Owner of Sunpath Financial, 15-years experience in finances, ten years in individual and corporate tax, Author or "The Ultimate Guide to Retirement", Forbes award winner for top 25 Retirement Articles 2019.
  • Opinions expressed by Sunpath Contributors are their own.

Long Term Care is one of the newest medical problems of our generation. Why is it that no one has talked about it at all or at any great length? Simply put, people are living a lot longer than they were before.

In 2004, there were roughly 36 million people over the age of 65 in the United States, or roughly 12% of the total United States population. In 2015, there were roughly 57 million people over the age of 65, or roughly 18% of the total population of the United States. That’s also a 58% increase in the elderly population. By 2030, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that there will be 71 million people over the age of 65. And from 2004, that’s a 97% increase in elderly people over the age of 65.

What does that mean for you? With the improvements of medicine and health, people are just living longer. It means that you will live longer. But why does that matter? Because no other generation has had to experience this large amount of people living well over the age of 65. This generation and future generations will be tackling this issue as it becomes one of the largest problems in US medical history.

Why is the age of 65 so important? It’s not only important because of when most people receive their social security benefits, but at least 70% of people over 65 will need long term care services and support at some point in their lives.

In 2012, 9 million Americans over the age of 65 needed long term care. Well how expensive can this cost be? Home Care in 2015 ranges from $48,000 – $50,000 a year. Based off a 44 hour week, or 6 hours a day. Adult Day Health Care ranges from $19,000 – $21,000 a year. Based off of 5 days a week. Assisted Living Facility – $47,000 – $48,000 a year. Nursing Home:Semi-Private room: $95,000 – $97,000 a year. Private Room: $150,000 – $160,000 a year.

Because of the staggering cost, many people that experience long term care, can only rely on their family members to take care of them, rather than a skilled nurse. 60% of Americans have had experience with long-term care, either through friends, acquaintances, or family. 
86% of those in long-term care were actually cared for by family members or friends.

While many people reported that it was a positive experience, and that caring for that person did strengthen the relationship, there was still roughly a 50% chance that it caused stress on the family, whether it was their mother, father, spouse/partner, or in-laws. There was also a 40% chance in it taking time away from their own family time and work time. There was also a greater burden to a person’s income if it was that person’s spouse/partner that needed the care.

There’s also the belief that many Americans believe their families will take care of them. And the belief is that their spouse will take care of them. This belief that their spouse will take care of them, and then maybe their children is so high that rarely do people plan for the event of a long-term care incident. However, if you refer back to the first chart, if the husband or wife has to take of the other, it was reported that it had become a burden on their finances.

When it was asked, where do most people believe the care should come from, and who should be the most responsible for care? The response was overwhelmingly from health insurance companies and the government, with a good portion believing they could self-insuring themselves. While an overwhelmingly majority stated that their families should not have a large responsibility.

Let’s recap, there is a 50% chance of it causing stress in your family’s life if you burden them with the costs or caring for a person in long term care. And there’s a 15-20% chance that it can actually damage a relationship. There’s also a 25-40% chance that it will become a financial burden as well taking time away from work and your own family. Add onto the fact that the majority of Americans believe that their spouse will provide for them, leading too many not planning for the expenses it may cause in the future. Furthermore, even though most people believe that their spouse will take care of them, they still believe that private insurance and the government should help them out.

Private insurance will help, only if you have taken the proper steps in buying the insurance. But the sad fact is that only around 8% of Americans have any type of long term care insurance. So what do the 92% remaining Americans do? As the majority stated before, it’s their spouse who will take care of them. First, let’s keep in mind that most LTC events happen past the age of 70. To put it bluntly, the average age of a person claiming long term care is 78. And the average age in a nursing home is 82. At that age, your spouse will probably not have enough strength or energy to take care of you.

Most Americans do not want their children to take care of them, mainly because their children have their own children to worry about and don’t wish to be a financial and emotional burden on their kids. So if you don’t have long term care insurance, nor is your spouse healthy enough, and you don’t want to be a burden to your kids. What else is left?

The government is all that’s left with programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
Click here to find out what exactly can the government do with Medicare and Medicaid?

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