Tuesday, April 20, 2010

AARP Magazine offers article on male caregivers

The May & June 2010 issue of AARP Magazine has a provocative article (on p. 43) by Gail Sheehy, “The Secret Caregivers: Men care for their loved ones more often than we know. Why do they hide it? Inside their silent burdens—and bittersweet rewards,” link hereThere's an unpleasant noun one can use here -- shame.

The article notes that the number of unpaid caregivers in the United States is now 65 million, and one third of these are men. In some cases, men are more likely to focus on business issues, and hire outside services for the more personal matters, but not always. There has to be money, or at least long term care insurance (whose terms may be difficult to meet). Generally, Medicaid is available only when resources are spent down, and in many states adult children are legally responsible for their parents care bills.

(If the elder does have enough funds, it may be proper for the adult child to compensate himself/herself for labor and report it as income; talk to an elder or tax attorney in your state.)

The article relates the story of a particular family in Pennsylvania where a son leaned on his sisters to share sacrifice to keep their mother out of a nursing home. In the particular story, the nursing home sounded negligent, but there are many well run homes. I hate to see accounts of this kind of not-chosen sacrifice if a facility cannot do its job. But demographically, the problem is only going to grow. Politicians (and the youthful president) need to take this up, although the Class Act (part of the recent health reform package) is a start.

1 comment:

Scott A Olson said...

The CLASS Act will not be an option for those who are already disabled (and unable to work) or those who are retired and do not want to work. The law requires that in order to qualify for benefits, one must pay premiums for 5 years AND must be working for at least 3 of those 5 years.

The CLASS Act's $50 per day "average benefit" will only cover a small portion of the $75,000+ per year most Americans pay for in-home care. Most people who want to protect their savings will still need to purchase long-term care insurance to supplement the CLASS Act benefit.

One of the biggest problems we face is that most Americans still think that Medicare or their medical insurance covers the cost of long term care.

The CLASS Act addresses this problem by making a very clear statement: You have to pay for your own long term care. You either have to pay for your own long term care by using your savings, the $50 per day CLASS Act benefit, long term care insurance, or a combination of these.

Most of the ten million Americans who own long term care insurance, own it because they've seen friends or family have to spend down their assets before qualifying for Medicaid. The CLASS Act will help alert the rest of the country to the fact that they need to financially plan for their future long term care needs.

Scott A. Olson