Aging In Place: Gracefully Meeting Needs of a Population Living Longer

Our aging population is impacting all of us. The companies we work for, the communities we live in. individual consumers and businesses. Living longer can be wonderful but it is resulting in expanded needs that our local government, our families and our businesses have difficulty meeting.

This article will touch upon the external and internal forces as well as a few suggestions that can relieve family caregivers now.

The Census Bureau reports that people over age 90 make up 4.7 percent of the 65 and older population. By 2050 they project that the over 90 share will be at least 10 percent of the 65 and older population.

Living longer is great if a person is healthy and can provide for herself or himself. However, as one ages, assistance is often required.  That help is frequently provided by or managed by family caregivers.  Here is where the paths between work and family caregiving intersect.

Our parents, and most certainly the rest of us, want to age in our homes. This is where the phrase ‘aging in place’ comes from. Less and less people want to move to nursing homes unless they need a tremendous amount of daily nursing care.

Technology—including in-home monitoring systems such as Life Alert, telemedicine, home medical monitoring systems for heart disease, medication management and even inserting GPS technology in a loved one’s shoes—is allowing people to live at home longer and more safely.  Combining technology, home improvements for safety and in-home care services, our aging population is able to age in place and almost never have to move to a facility.

Even with help, family caregivers are still involved on a regular basis assisting their parents. The family caregiver may be paying bills and managing their parent’s finances. Mom may get a bit confused at doctor’s appointments so the adult child is accompanying their parents to the doctor.

And often the family caregiver is still working. The caregiver is taking vacation days to accompany the parent to the doctor’s appointment and is often handling care related calls while on the job. This same caregiver is also putting their own physical and mental health at risk due to the stress of dealing with these issues.

This is where the crossroads between work and parental care meet. Large companies attempt to meet this demand through their EAP (Employee Assistance Programs). These programs guide family caregivers to the services they need. A family caregiver still has to be with their parents when certain things need to be done. According to AARP, from a report they compiled in 2011, the impact of lost work by caregivers to business was an estimated $33.6 billion. That is $2,110. per employee.

According to the same AARP report, family caregivers who are age 50+ can lose up to $304,000 in wages over their lifetime. This impacts their social security benefits and ability to invest for a better retirement.

So, what can be done? It’s complicated. People need to save more so they can provide for a longer life. When people are younger they need to think about living a healthier life style so they have a greater shot at aging more easily. Companies may consider allowing people to work longer so they can save more for retirement, provide more education about local aging services for their employees and encourage employees to purchase long term care insurance helping to secure their future needs.  It’s a long list and this is barely scratching the surface.

As the owner of a prominent home care agency, I can make a number of suggestions about how to move forward when in home care is needed:

  • If you have siblings, schedule a meeting and get everyone on board so you have a united front when approaching your parents.
  • Create a list of everything that needs to be handled.
  • Let everyone be tasked are best at.
  • Agree to hire an in-home care agency:
    • Your parent may not be happy but explain that everyone’s job is being impacted.
    • Tell them that this is only for a while and that you are doing this to help you and your siblings.

I suggest using the following criteria for selecting an in-home agency:

  • Make sure they have a valid license issued by the Division of Consumer Affairs.
  • Ask if the agency provides an in-home assessment before starting.
  • Ask if the agency does local, state and federal background checks on their employees.
  • Ensure that the aides are the agency’s direct employees and not contracted workers.
  • Ensure the aides are Certified Home Health Aides.
  • Make sure they have worker’s compensation insurance and liability insurance.
  • Ask how they monitor payroll and attendance.
  • Ask how often the nurse visits. It should be every 60 days.

The consideration of elder care is immediate when someone must contemplate caring for a loved one. It also needs to be considered when a person is thinking about their own future. Retirement planning can offer the promise of time to pursue a desire—that raising a family and work did not allow—so you should be planning for your own elder care needs.

Eydie_ShapiroIf you would like further information, please contact Eydie Shapiro at Comfort Keepers. Our number is (201) 340-2238 or send an email to eydieshapiro@comfortkeepers.com. Our website is Secaucus-804.comfortkeepers.com

 

Share this post

Meadowlands USA

Meadowlands USA

Meadowlands USA is a North Jersey regional publication that reaches people who live and work in and around the Meadowlands (including the Bergen, Hudson, Essex and Passaic County corridor), as well as visitors to our region. The blog edition is updated regularly and the print edition is released six times a year.

No comments

Add yours