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Aging at Home: What it Means for Families

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Aging at home is increasingly the preferred method of care for seniors these days. In fact, a recent study by the Associated Press and the independent research organization NORC at the University of Chicago, found that 77% of adults ages 40 and over surveyed preferred aging at home. 

It is no shock that the majority of people hope to age in a place they find comforting and familiar. However, only 22% of those polled said that they would prefer a home health aide as their chosen caregiver while doing so. The majority, a whopping 70% of people, said they would want a family member to provide their care. Of those who wanted family members to provide care, men polled preferred spousal care more than women, with 51% of men hoping their spouse would provide for them with only 33% of women indicating the same. Meanwhile, women hoped their children would care for them more as they aged more than men, with 25% of women preferring child caregivers and 14% of men. So what does all of this mean for family members?

Interestingly, these numbers do not reflect the reality of the current home-care situation in America. 46% of people currently receiving home-based care do so from an aide, while 52% of these people are cared for by family members. Experts believe the reasoning for this is that family caregivers may not work out as well as is originally hoped for because people do not have a firm idea of how home health care and long-term care actually works. Having a family member provide care can lead to financial burden, additional stress on the family, and weakening of personal relationships. In fact, those polled with experience as familial caregivers were the least likely to say caring for a loved one was a positive life experience.

With this in mind, having help from an experienced home care aide may actually be the best thing one can do for their overall care, as well as their family. Oftentimes, people may not choose this option due to the lack of affordability of a home care aid when the need for one arises. In fact, one third of those polled have done no planning at all for their own long-term care. Around a third of respondents with a family income of $50,000 or more expected Medicare for pay for the majority of the costs of home health care, which unfortunately is not the case. Additionally, many people believe their health insurance pays for long-term care services and the reality is that it does not. Health insurance covers skilled care, such as doctors, nurses, and diagnostic services, while long term care covers custodial care. Furthermore, when it comes to Medicaid, one can only qualify if they are low-income or have extensive proof of spending all of their assets. The qualifications for Medicaid can be stringent and it can take a while for one to prove they are eligible.

So what can families do to help anticipate these costs? Long-term care insurance is a great option and there are many different types that ensure families can find one affordable for them. To evaluate what type of long term care insurance best meets your needs, consult with a broker who specializes in long term care planning. Choices may be one or more of the following: long term care insurance, life insurance or an annuity with a long term care rider, life insurance that you use the death benefit for a chronic illness, or a home health care policy. All these examples can either minimize or save your family from incurring the full financial cost of care. Retirement and aging should be a new chapter in life, not a burden. Planning ahead will give you more options if you choose to stay at home, all the while relieving stress on your those you love.


Aging-in-Place Wildly Popular, Home Health Aides Less So. Home Health Care News. Jun 21 2016. 

Long-Term Care in America: Expectations and Preferences for Care and Caregiving. The Associated Press- NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Jun 21 2016.