How Caregiving Has Become a Routine Part of American Life

By Tess DiNapoli

America’s caregivers support the social and economic foundations of our society. As the population ages, more and more elderly adults need extra care on a regular basis. To address these needs, a significant and growing number of people are serving as caregivers to family members and others in their communities. In addition, we continue to face the challenges of COVID-19, which has caused many Americans to make the choice to keep their elderly relatives at home and provide care for them. These realities are making caregiving a more routine part of American life.

Who are the caregivers?

The number of Americans providing care for family and other members of their communities has grown over the last five years. According to an AARP study, 43.5 million adults in the United States are caregivers. The vast majority of those caregivers, 34.2 million, are providing care for adults 50 and over.

A substantial number of caregivers are also caring for more than one person, the majority of them being women, as they’re likely looking after both young children and their aging parents.

Multigenerational households

One of the growing realities in America is that many households span multiple generations. Older adults want to stay out of congregate senior care facilities as long as possible, and adult children often become their caregivers. To lessen the burdens of caregiving, a number of these adult children are choosing to bring their parents to live in their own homes with them.

Challenges of caregiving

Caregivers face a multitude of challenges as they provide support to older adults. The time commitment of caregiving is substantial, the financial strain can be significant, especially for unpaid caregivers, and the emotional stress of caring for others can affect the mental health and well-being of the caregiver.

Time challenges

The Family Caregiver Alliance indicates that family caregivers spend an average of over 24 hours providing care each week. This time commitment is on top of the demands of jobs, children, and social obligations. The number of hours a caregiver devotes to caregiving increases when the care recipient lives in the same household. The time commitment also increases with the age of the care recipient.

Financial challenges

When a caregiver is spending a significant number of hours providing care, they are not as available for extra work hours or more work responsibilities. As a consequence, caregivers are often forced to pass up promotions or cut their work hours, diminishing their own earning potential. These financial decisions can have long-lasting effects, potentially lowering social security benefits and retirement savings.

Mental health challenges

The American Psychological Association has identified several mental health concerns that are common among those providing senior care. Depression, anxiety, and guilt are some of the most prevalent challenges to the mental well-being of caregivers.

Benefits of caregiving

Despite these significant challenges, there are benefits to more routine caregiving in American life. Caregivers are less isolated with a growing number of other adults facing the same burdens. As caregiving becomes a more normal aspect of adult life, communities of caregivers help to ease some of the burdens and challenges they all face.

In addition, seniors benefit from remaining at home to receive care and support. They are not constrained by the schedules of care facilities and they can retain a degree of independence, which helps with mental well-being. Remaining in familiar surroundings can ease the strain and anxiety of aging as well.

Caregivers can help their care recipients to maintain their own mental health. One of the risks to elderly adults as they age is social isolation. They are not as able to get out of the house and socialize with their peers, whether due to physical limitations, no longer being able to drive themselves, or both. Caregivers provide much-needed companionship and can keep those in their care from getting lonely and depressed.

There are financial benefits as well. The costs of institutional care for the elderly are often prohibitive. Providing care to older adults in their homes is a cost-effective alternative for those who do not need around-the-clock care.

The reality is that the largest population in America, the baby boomer generation, is now aging. The care needs of these older adults will continue to be an increasing element of American society over the coming years, and we’ll need to prepare ourselves to meet that challenge as well.

 

 

 

By |2021-10-06T19:29:02-05:00October 6th, 2021|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on How Caregiving Has Become a Routine Part of American Life

Caregiver Tips: Planning for Long-Term Cancer Care

Caregivers for long-term cancer care

Long-term cancer care supports cancer patients throughout their treatment journey. Patients diagnosed with cancer may choose a friend or family member as their cancer caregiver. When taking on the role of caregiver, make sure to understand how to best assist them. Here are some tips below to help get you started.

 

Tip 1: Understand the diagnosis of your cancer patient and how it affects them

Aggressive Cancers

Being a cancer caregiver opens up new responsibilities and challenges. There are many types of caregiving that provide help for the general health and wellbeing of patients. With cancer caregiving, patients often require specialized help. You may be familiar with senior or disability caregiving, but certain cancers are more difficult to manage. For example, breast cancer is common but involves a different caregiving approach than mesothelioma cancer. Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer of the lungs that typically targets older adults.

There is currently no available cure for mesothelioma. This results in a 79 percent, 1-year survival rate, even with multimodal treatment—which combines one or two cancer treatments. Cancer patients and caregivers may have many questions surrounding treatment. For this reason, caregiver resources help plan and ease long-term mesothelioma cancer care. Take time to understand the type of cancer your patient has and how mesothelioma will affect them physically, mentally, and socially. The decision to have long-term cancer care is hard on the patient, too. Caregivers relieve some of the burdens patients will have. With this in mind, preparing for your patients will help you fully grasp this role.

It’s also crucial to work with the doctors and cancer teams to provide quality care. Depending on what type of caregiver you are, your responsibilities could change. More qualified caregivers may have to administer medications. Connecting with the doctor will help the cancer team with their prognosis strategy and your patient’s long-term cancer care. This will also help you better understand the patient’s needs.

Tip 2: Keep the patient, family and friends involved

It can be devastating when a loved one is diagnosed with cancer. Putting in the effort to work with your patient and their family will make them feel included and comfortable during this difficult time. Caregivers spend a lot of time with patients. By creating healthy relationships with them, you can give them the support and encouragement they need. Often, treatment is hard on patients and takes long recovery times. You will be one of their biggest advocates.

Tip 3: Pay attention to how you feel

Amidst the distress you and your patient will undergo, it’s vital to check in on yourself. It may seem as though your feelings aren’t as valid as those you are helping, but that isn’t the case. You won’t be able to fully care for your patient if you’re not caring for yourself as well. To avoid burnout, dedicate time for yourself to process your emotions and feelings, especially because of how draining long-term cancer caregiving can be.

If you are taking a cancer caregiver position, keep these tips in mind. Caregiving is not babysitting. Patients and their families rely on caregivers to handle what they cannot. Taking on this role is both an immense commitment and a privilege.

 

 

By |2021-08-09T14:39:42-05:00August 9th, 2021|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Caregiver Tips: Planning for Long-Term Cancer Care

Guest Blog: 4 Ways You Can Find Affordable Homecare

Home care is often preferred by seniors. An overwhelming 90% of seniors want to age in place. It is also affordable compared to nursing homes and assisted living facilities. However, hiring a caregiver may still be out of reach for many families.

1. Home Care Agency

A popular option for hiring a caregiver is through a home care agency. Hiring a caregiver through an agency allows seniors to have personalized one-on-one attention and flexible pricing (choosing less hours means saving on costs). You are also not responsible for any employer obligations like payroll tax and being held liable for any injuries that happen at home. However, this means that agencies pass administrative costs to the family which may still be unaffordable.

2. Family Caregivers

Did you know that there are an estimated 40 million unpaid family caregivers in the United States? Family caregivers perform a wide range of duties like paying bills, running errands, and helping with light household chores. Many family caregivers dedicate on average 20 hours a week towards providing care and some take time off work as well—resulting in a loss of earnable income. While being a family caregiver can save you money, your loved one may have needs that go beyond what you can support.

3. Local Classifieds

You can hire a caregiver directly through your local classifieds or online directory. Hiring a caregiver directly, and not through an agency can provide more affordable home care for your loved one, but there are some extra hurdles. You will need to personally interview and screen potential candidates. This involves meeting with the caregiver, verifying their references, and performing a background check. If your loved one needs care immediately, this process may be difficult and time consuming to do properly.

4. eCaregivers

After learning about using eCaregivers, you can find private caregivers with rates starting at $10-$14/hour for care, versus $20-$24 with an agency, helping you save thousands of dollars in a year while still ensuring quality home care for your loved one. All of the caregivers on eCaregivers have passed a background check so you have a peace of mind that you’re hiring a vetted caregiver for your loved one.

 

About the Author

Peter Kang is a writer for eCaregivers. He is inspired by his caregiver experience with his late grandfather and role model, a Korean War veteran, to help families find affordable care for their loved ones. Follow Peter on Facebook and Twitter.

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By |2021-04-25T17:13:46-05:00April 29th, 2021|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: 4 Ways You Can Find Affordable Homecare

Guest Blog: How to Get Care with These Common Chronic Illnesses

Understanding health insurance in America can sometimes feel like it requires its own specialized degree, even if you are at an advanced age and have navigated the red tape for years. As we age, and more health conditions become apparent, and navigating treatment options and cost can become increasingly tedious. About 40 million Americans are limited in their daily lives due to effects from one or multiple chronic illnesses.

The questions can become daunting: Can I get coverage if I have chronic conditions? Does my coverage include treatment and/or therapy? Is my coverage capped or limited at any point? What if I have multiple afflictions? Luckily there are resources out there to help you navigate these obstacles, you just need to know how to find them. We’ve compiled some tips and resources to help you get treatment and care with common chronic illness.

Heart Disease
Chronic heart disease which is an umbrella term that includes coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis, cardiomyopathy, and others is the leading cause of death for men, women, and most racial groups in the United States (about 655,000 deaths a year). The average age for a first heart attack in the US is 65, which is why it is commonly labeled a disease of senior citizens. However, with the right treatment options, many people survive heart disease for years.

Luckily, Medicare offers both medical and hospital coverage for heart disease patients which includes one free heart screen every five years, along with cardiovascular behavioral therapy visits annually with a primary care physician for preventative care. These screenings cover blood tests for cholesterol, lipids, and triglycerides along with dialogues that cover risk factors.

Chronic Kidney Disease
The CDC estimates that 15% of US adults have chronic kidney disease, which translates to around 37 million people. Depending on when it is caught, and how diligent you are with treatment options, the impact of CKD can range from minor diet restrictions to organ transplant. Most patients do not experience kidney function loss until stage three of the disease or later. These patients should still regularly meet with their primary care physician, address underlying conditions that could be contributing to the problem such as a fatty diet, lack of exercise, or smoking, but they typically do not need treatment options.

However, those who suffer from End Stage Renal Disease (stage five) have lost sufficient function in both kidneys and must regularly receive dialysis treatment until they can receive a transplant. Medicare covers inpatient, outpatient, and home dialysis treatment options under their part B and part C coverage plans. This includes supplies, nursing services, lab testing and in some cases transportation to and from treatment centers.

Degenerative Brain Disease(s)
While CKD is a very specific diagnosis that highlights kidney efficiency, neurodegenerative brain disease is more of a general term that is meant to include other specific diagnoses such as Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, dementia and Spinal Muscular atrophy. Unfortunately most degenerative nerve diseases have no cure, and treatment coverage options vary based on diagnosis. For example, Medicare overs PET scans for those with FTD (fronto-temporal dementia) and Alzheimer’s, but only if patients meet eight additional conditions. In general, government assistance will cover hospital visits for any patient that has Part A coverage (thankfully), and most home care is also covered by Part B coverage.

However, like with previous examples, specific stipulations have to be met in order to receive the necessary coverage and treatment. Generally speaking, you should consult with your primary care physician and his staff to understand the right process for you.

Multiple Diagnoses
If the red tape with Medicare and a chronic illness is hard to comprehend, understanding how they prioritize and rank coverage based on multiple illnesses is akin to learning a new language. The CDC estimates that roughly 40% of adults in the US have two or more chronic diseases, and for those on medicare that represents a drastically different approach to how they receive coverage.

For those with multiple chronic conditions, Medicare Advantage coverage combines all the differences in parts A, B, and D and lumps them into one single service umbrella of coverage.
In 2018 the Senate passed the CHRONIC Care Act which expanded Medicare Advantage coverage and paved the way for those who require an elevated number of services like adult day care, caregivers, meal delivery, and more. To learn more about Medicare Advantage, we recommend this comprehensive write up here.

Susan is a guest writer on behalf of InsuranceFAQ.net. Susan wants to spread awareness on understanding health care and insurance coverage.

By |2021-02-22T15:35:15-05:00February 22nd, 2021|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: How to Get Care with These Common Chronic Illnesses