Statistically, around 10,000 men and women reach the age of 65 each day. While keeping that number in mind, also think about the fact that a huge number of these people have one chronic health condition. Around 75 percent have two or more.
Chronic health conditions are diseases and ailments that last a year or longer. The common ones are high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. Many of these conditions require the senior citizen to have help with daily activities of living. This is becoming a huge problem.
The Cost of Care is Staggering
When someone with chronic health conditions cannot remember to take medications, eat properly, or care for him or herself, it’s likely that that person will need to seek urgent care. As most seniors hold health insurance from Medicare or Medicaid, the cost ends up being paid for partially or fully by the U.S. government. It can be cheaper to make sure seniors have elder care services at home.
Here’s where there are growing concerns. It’s estimated that in a 10-year span, 7.8 million professional caregivers will be needed to add to the workforce. It’s not a high-paying job with the median pay at just over $11 an hour. Turnover is a problem. In addition, it’s estimated that about 25 percent of the current in-home care aides are immigrants. Fears are that tightening immigration laws will lead to a shortage of caregivers.
What’s Happening to Fix This?
Several state governments are starting to realize a crisis is brewing. Families are forced to step in to care for parents who have health issues. To do that, they’re giving up jobs or cutting back on the hours they work. Family caregivers are sacrificing retirement incomes and increasing their own health risks.
Hawaii was the first state to take strides to change things. Family caregivers now receive a daily stipend that can be used to pay for respite care or adult day programs. Other states are looking at similar plans. Arizona, California, Illinois, Nebraska, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin are working on plans that would help families who are caring for aging parents, grandparents, or other relatives.
California is looking into offering a yearly tax credit of as much as $5,000 to help cover the expenses family caregivers incur. Many family caregivers spend their own money on things their parents need. It can also cost money to make a home accessible to wheelchairs or mobility issues.
One thing is clear. If your parent needs help with daily activities of living and you decide to be that caregiver, don’t try to do it all on your own. You’ll burn out. Elder care services provide you with the option of taking a break. Call an elder care agency to discuss your family’s situation.