The Life Transition Blog

Aging Parents: Its Not “IF”, But “WHEN”

When it comes to our parents, it's only a matter of time before we adult children need to become more involved in their day-to-day lives. Unless we are incredibly lucky, our parents won't live to be 100 and die in their sleep with no deterioration in their physical or mental abilities. For the rest of us, we need to be prepared for the inevitable time when our help is needed. It makes sense to sit down with our parents and our siblings to think about how we'll handle things before the need to do so is a crisis. After all, these are not easy issues to think about, much less discuss, and being able to consider them over a period of time is preferable to making decisions during a time of extreme stress.

If you don't think this topic concerns you, consider that, according to the National Clearinghouse for Long Term Care Information:

Long-term care is a variety of services and supports to meet health or personal care needs over an extended period of time. Most long-term care is non-skilled personal care assistance, such as help performing everyday "Activities of Daily Living" such as bathing, dressing, and eating

At least 70 percent of people over age 65 will require some long-term care services at some point in their lives This year, about 9 million Americans over the age of 65 will need long-term care services; by 2020, that number will increase to 12 million

On average, someone age 65 today will need some long-term care services for three years

One year of care in a nursing home, based on the 2008 national average, costs over $68,000 for a semi-private room One year of care at home, assuming you need periodic personal care help from a home health aide (the average is about three times a week), would cost almost $18,000 a year

A caregiver is a family member, partner, friend, or neighbor who helps care for an elderly individual or person with a disability who lives at home; in 2004, there were more than 44 million caregivers age 18 or older in the United States - about 21% of the adult population

Approximately 60% of caregivers are women

Thirteen percent of caregivers caring for older adults are themselves aged 65 or over

The typical caregiver is a 46-year-old woman who is married and employed, and is caring for her widowed mother who does not live with her

A 2006 study of caregivers found that on average caregivers spend 21 hours a week giving care

Taking the time to plan ahead will reduce the inevitable stress when the time comes. You will have an idea of the resources that are available to help you and your parent, and you will have prepared for how to pay for it. If you have siblings, it helps if you are all on the same page regarding how each of you will contribute to your parents' care, whether it is financially or by doing. If you're interested in learning more, check out the National Clearinghouse for Long Term Care Information at www.longtermcare.gov and download their very informative planning guide.
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