Do you have a strategy for caregiving?

Most people prefer not to think about needing care in their older years. As people continue to live longer, however, chances are that many of us will need assistance at some point in our lives.

Taking the time to discuss caregiving with your loved ones can give you an opportunity to make sure everyone knows what your preferred strategy for care might be, should you need future help with everyday tasks. Being open with your loved ones about how you’d like to receive care and who you want to provide it can ensure that your family will know what steps to take should you end up needing it. 

Family caregivers play an important role in our society. In 2020, 19 percent of Americans provided unpaid care to an adult with health or functional needs.  While it’s an important job that many people take on, being a caregiver to a family member can take an emotional, physical, and financial toll on the person providing care. Caregivers spend an average of 24 hours each week providing care, and 23 percent of caregivers say that their own health is fair to poor.

Women are especially impacted by caregiving; they make up 61 percent of all caregivers. In order to provide care, women are more likely to work less, pass up a promotion, take a leave of absence, or quit a job. Thus, the financial impact on women can be greater; being a caregiver often means that they earn less and save less for retirement.

It’s common to expect that your family will be able to take care of you as you age, and if you communicate what your expectations are for your future care, you’ll be able to determine how family members can best support you. Many policies that provide coverage for this type of care now offer the option for friends or family members to be compensated for the care they provide—which can alleviate the financial burden of caregiving. Or, if family members are not able to provide the necessary care or they live far away, hiring a professional caregiver to come to your home can be another benefit of having coverage.

No matter how you decide to prepare for your future care needs, what’s important is that you communicate openly with your loved ones about your intentions, so if the need arises, they’ll be able to help make sure that everything is done according to your wishes.

 “Caregiving in the U.S.,” AARP and National Alliance for Caregiving, May 2020.

April 2021

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