Divorce And Changed Family Roles Will Impact Available Care

The elderly population of the United State will nearly double by the year 2050 creating both an enormous caregiving problem for an increasing number of families.

As aging baby boomers enter retirement years, there is a growing concern as to who will care for them as they reach into their 80s, 90s and beyond. Traditionally in the United States, adult children have accepted the caregiving responsibilities for aging parents. 

“Those caregiving roles are becoming increasingly blurred as more families are affected by divorce and remarriage than in previous decades,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance, the national organization.  “There will not be the same family network and expect much stress and strife over who is going to care for mom or dad, if anyone is even willing to take on that enormous burden.” 

Relationship quality trumps genetic ties when determining caregiving obligations according to a study by University of Missouri researchers.  They studied how divorce and remarriage affect beliefs about who should care for aging relatives.

The researchers found that relationship quality, including a history of mutual help, and resource availability influenced decisions about who cares for aging parents and stepparents.  The old concept that family obligations are based on genetic ties is no longer true for most Americans, the researchers report.  How close family members are to each other, how much they have been helped by them in the past, and what hardships caregiving might place on family members are important factors when people consider caring for older relatives.

“We are clearly no longer a society that singularly relies on families to provide much of the care for aging parents and that is why every family needs to have the long term care discussion and a plan in place to address the eventuality of some need,” Slome adds.  “I like to say, long term care insurance allows a loved one to care about you, not to have to care for you.” 

Financial planning experts note that most people wait too long to consider their long term care planning options because the right time to plan is prior to turning age 65 before common medical conditions are diagnosed or become problematic.  “The sweet spot for http://www.aaltci.org/long-term-care-insurance/ long term care insurance is between ages 52 and 64,” Slome adds.  “You do not want to wait until after a doctor has diagnosed even a mild stroke because at that point it will very likely be too late to medically qualify for this protection.”

For more information on long term care insurance, visit the Association’s Consumer Information center.

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