When you see an older couple together, it’s easy to imagine they’ve taken care of each other for many years. However, in their old age, one partner may become more frail and needs considerable care. With the idea of nursing homes a last resort for many, the average age for caregivers is steadily rising year over years.
In fact, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving, along with the AARP Public Policy Institute, more than 3,000,000 seniors, over the age of 75, are currently providing care for daily living tasks (bathing, eating, and bathroom assistance). According to a recently released report, Caregiving in the US 2015, about half of caregivers say they are caring for a spouse, other say they are helping other relatives, friends and neighbors. The people they are caring for are also over 75 years of age.
Gail Hunt, president and chief executive officer of the National Alliance for Caregiving, says the reason for these statistics is simple: our society has aged and people are living longer. The result is that more seniors are forced to take on the caregiver role than ever before. In a NY Times article, Hunt said, “There didn’t use to be so many 95-year-olds,” she said, “and someone’s caring for those 95-year-olds.”
One of the biggest challenges with these new statistics is that “caregiver burden” is a very real thing. It’s widely understood by the medical community that the stress caregiving can put on a person can cause serious depression, not to mention physical health issues that could even lead to death.
Along with the managing the stress of care-giving, it is important to think the capacity of the partner needing care, but also of the caregiver. A qualified estate attorney can help couples and families understand not only estate planning issues, but also the benefits and often necessity of having a strong medical directive, powers of attorney and back-up care plans. Unfortunately, as we age, a fall or illness can put the entire household at risk. Speaking with an experienced attorney can help couples and families think through their options and plan for their care and the disposition of their assets thoughtfully.
At Posternock Apell, PC we are compassionate, experienced elder law attorneys who care for clients like they are family. We understand the burdens of caregiving and we are knowledgeable about the best ways to ensure your entire family is protected for a long time to come. Call today for a consultation.