Eldercare planning is one of those topics many people don’t like to discuss (that includes seniors, the elderly and their children). Planning for your future is responsible and loving. Responsible, since you are making choices about your life, your care and ultimately, your wishes. Loving, because instead of leaving the decisions that affect your quality of life and care to a loved one, you are proactively planning for your own eldercare.
From 2011 to 2030, the number of elderly people in the U.S. will reach 70.3 million (nearly double 40.4 million). In 2008, nearly 21 million elderly people needed care services. In addition, nearly 70% of those 65 or older need some type of long-term care. Knowing that is the case and that you will most likely require some type of care as you grow older, planning ahead makes good personal and financial sense.
What is elder care?
Eldercare (elderly care, eldercare, aged care) is the meeting of the specific needs an elderly person has. This could include services (such as, in-home care, meal delivery services, transporation, in-home medical care, adult day care, nursing homes, assisted living, hospice or other services). In the U.S., many of these services are provided by family or friends of an elderly person (caregivers) and/or by community-based or pay-for-service companies.
Through caregivers or local companies, the elderly are assisted in maintaining their quality of life by getting help with their activities of daily living (ADL’s). Every person is different and requires a different level of assistance, of course. Tasks such as personal care (bathing, dressing), meal preparation, health care, house cleaning, administering medications and others would be included.
Eldercare is personal
Eldercare is individual-centric and must take into account an elderly person’s own level of needed assistance at a particular time in their life. Families are more likely (at least, at first) to be the providers of elder care to an aging loved one. This is one of the reasons why planning is so important. Proper planning reduces the impact elder care has on family members. By doing proper elder care planning, a person relieves stress from family members and ensures that his or her wishes are carried out.
Out of the nearly 40 million people over the age of 65 in 2010, about 1 million of them lived in an Assisted Living Facility. By the year 2030 that number is expected to double. In 2010 older consumers averaged out-of-pocket health care expenditures of $4,843, an increase of 49% since 2000.
Elder care planning is so important
So many people forego eldercare planning and don’t think about it until they (or a loved one) are in need of assistance. By waiting, you are leaving a considerable amount of your care to chance and could reducing your quality of life. If instead you opt to plan ahead for elder care, you can craft a plan that takes into account your personal wishes, as well as help plan for financial or health decisions that might otherwise become the responsibility of your family.
The truth is, the large majority of people will require some level of elder care. Planning ahead ensures that you will learn about the choices available to you in your community, the cost of services, what financial options are available (or what financial accommodations you will need to make) and help you make choices now for your future, while you have the ability to do so.
U.S. Bureau of Census
Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Aging
National Center for Health Statistics