Survey looks at care-giving readiness

Staff report

RADNOR, Pa. (Business Wier) — November is Long-Term Care Awareness Month, and a new caregiving study from Lincoln Financial Group finds that 58 percent of people either have personally provided eldercare or know someone who has become an elderly loved one’s caregiver.

With such widespread awareness of the risks and challenges associated with long-term care, the study uncovers a broad set of emotions associated with providing care to a friend or relative. The study also finds many people are still not planning for their own care needs.

The omnibus study — Emotional Aspects of Caregiving — finds that 52 percent of people would feel compassion if they suddenly became a caregiver, while 44 percent would feel overwhelmed and 38 percent would feel needed. Generation X respondents were very likely to feel compassion and feelings of being overwhelmed, perhaps because individuals in this age bracket (ages 37–52) fall within the “sandwich generation,” adults simultaneously providing care or assistance to children and parents.

While two of the top three emotions expressed in the survey represent a positive sentiment toward caregiving, there are many considerations and potential limitations when it comes to the sacrifices caregivers are willing or able to make. Nearly 80 percent of people say they would be willing to help a friend or relative in need of care with cooking and feeding, and 75 percent would be willing to help with personal needs, such as house cleaning. However, people are significantly less likely to make larger sacrifices with accompanying costs. For example, 47 percent would be likely to move the friend or relative into their home, and only 35 percent of people say they would cut back their hours or quit their job to provide care. Similarly, just 35 percent say they would pay to place someone into a facility.

“A long-term care experience is not only about an individual, but about those who love them,” said Bill Nash, vice president of MoneyGuard Distribution, Lincoln Financial Distributors. “That’s why it’s so important that family members are on the same page, and planning together. This means adult children having conversations with their parents, spouses talking with each other, and the family meeting with their advisor. Lincoln has been helping people with their long-term care needs for nearly 30 years, so we recognize that these can be challenging conversations; but we’ve seen that in the long run, having these discussions can make the difference of someone receiving the appropriate level of care, easing the burden on loved ones and helping secure a family’s financial future.”

With the many responsibilities of a primary caregiver, it’s not surprising the study finds many adults do not want to rely on their children as their primary caregiver. Yet, many are not making alternative arrangements. Of those surveyed age 65 and over with children, 30 percent do not want their children to be their primary caregiver, but have not made other plans.

Lincoln Financial offers the following four tips to help get started with long-term care planning:

• Plan early with your family and a financial advisor. Health conditions can change quickly, forcing individuals and families to make rushed decisions. Lay out a long-term care plan based on your care wishes, financial goals and financial situation. Be sure to discuss the role family caregivers will play.

• Research the costs of long-term care services in your area. People often significantly underestimate the costs associated with long-term care. Online tools can help you understand the true costs as you begin your care planning.

• Understand what’s covered by Medicare, Medicaid and health insurance. People often assume these options will provide coverage for a long-term care event, when in reality they provide minimal or no coverage, or come with stipulations. Be sure to have a clear understanding of where these fit in your plan.

• Evaluate your options. After determining your care preferences and the resources that would be available to you in the event of a care need, consider whether a long-term care funding solution is appropriate to include in your plan and which type best suits your circumstances.

“Often times, people plan to pay for long-term care costs out of pocket, but depending on the level of care needed, that may not be realistic. It can also potentially have a significant impact on retirement plans, income for a surviving spouse or legacy plans,” said Mike Hamilton, vice president of MoneyGuard product management, Lincoln Financial Group. “Today there are many different types of long-term care funding solutions available that are designed to provide financial resources to help mitigate the costs of care events. The variety of solutions allows a consumer to select a solution that fits their specific care and financial needs.”

Staff report