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How Senior Care Impacts Families Financially, Emotionally and in the Workplace

Katie Bugbee
July 24, 2017

Care.com's 2016 Senior Care Survey results show that families are not nearly as ready for the surge of seniors needing care as they need to be. Below is the data and the action plan.

"I'm having a care crisis."

When your friend turns to you and says this, what do you think? Is it about her child? Her partner? Is it about a bad medical test result? Your heart is racing. What's going on?!

"My mother is getting old."

The thing about old age is that we're all approaching it, but you never really know when it's going to strike. It can be a fall, an illness or just a gradual decline. And no one is ever ready for how it changes their entire family.

Nearly half of American adults in their 40s and 50s are already in the Sandwich Generation caring for a child and an aging parent. And this will only grow. By 2050, the amount of people over 65 is projected to be 83.7 million (nearly double the rate now). Are we ready for this – both emotionally AND financially?

Care.com recently found that we, in fact, are not.

As a global marketplace for connecting families and caregivers, specializing in senior care counseling services, we recently surveyed nearly 500 people -- 19% of whom consider themselves senior care providers – and found that respondents:
 

  • Would rather have the sex talk with their kids than have the "senior care" talk with aging parents (54%)
  • Don't plan on discussing senior care options until there's a need (55%)
  • Don't know the true cost of senior care -- whether it's for a nursing home (67%), or for non-medical home care (57%)
  • Don't know what care options their seniors actually want (31%)
  • Aren't even budgeting or saving for their OWN senior care (64%)
     

When it comes to work, 36% of employees have asked for time off or workplace flexibility to accommodate for senior care needs. Additionally, 36% of employees say that concerns about their parent(s) or aging loved ones has affected their performance at work, and 34% have made work adjustments as a result of caring for aging loved ones.

And can we remind you that the population of those over 65 will double by 2050.

What will this mean for us going forward? We can only hope that families, workplaces and the government are listening and stepping up to prepare for this global care crisis.

Here are some of the survey's key statistics you should know about, as well as tips for what you can do to get your family and employer ready – and have your voice heard.


Important Survey Findings to Discuss at Home

Concerns and Stressors

  • 52% of respondents haven't actually discussed senior care issues with them
  • 54% would rather have the “sex talk” with their children than tackle a conversation about their aging parent not being able to drive anymore
  • Why is this? 20% admitted that they're just plain uncomfortable with the subject
  • 15% are afraid that their their parent(s) or aging loved one(s) would react defensively when inquired about their health.
  • However, for respondents who have already broached the subject, 60% of them say that the senior(s) in their lives did not react defensively
  • Two-thirds of respondents (66%) worry about what senior care options will be available to them in the future
     

Finances

  • Nearly 1 in 3 (29%) financially support their parent(s) or aging loved ones, with 1 in 3 people providing their parents with $5,000 or more per year in financial assistance
  • For non-medical homecare, 57% of those surveyed believe it costs less than $40,000 per year. The reality? According to a Genworth 2016 Cost of Care Survey, the national annualized average cost ranges from $45,760 to $46,332 for 44 hours per week
  • For full-time care in a nursing home, 67% of those surveyed again underestimated financial realities, anticipating that maximum costs would fall under $80,000 annually. In fact, 1 in 4 people (26%) think it costs half of what it actually does! According to the Genworth 2016 report, the national average cost for a nursing home starts at $82,125 and ranges up to $92,378
  • 64% are not actively budgeting or saving for their own or their partner’s senior care
     

Preferences and Planning for the Future

  • 72% of people would consider having their parent(s) or aging loved one(s) live with them as a long-term senior care option. In fact, in-home care is one of the top three options people think their loved ones would prefer
  • 42% believe that the most important thing for their parent(s) or aging loved one(s) is their independence, followed by their health (23%) and overall comfort (23%)
  • However, 31% of respondents don't know what the senior in their life would actually prefer. This may be why 51% believe that their aging loved ones should take the lead on long-term senior care planning
     

Senior Care in the Workplace

  • 36% of respondents have asked for time off or workplace flexibility to accommodate for senior care
  • 46% say that they would consider dropping out of the workforce to care for an ailing parent or loved one
  • 41% say their employer does not provide any programs or assistance for elder care, but that these programs are in demand
  • 52% of those surveyed admitted that if they were to consider a new job, they would research benefit options avaliable for senior care-related issues
  • The top three care-related benefits people said would be most useful to have were assistance with finding options for senior care (51%), followed closely by subsidized back-up care for emergencies (48%) and financial planning for senior care (46%)

 

Getting Your Family Ready

Be proactive with the family conversation. According to the Care.com 2016 Senior Care Survey, only 52% of those surveyed have discussed senior care issues with their parent(s) or aging loved ones. But once they actually tackle this difficult conversation, people ultimately feel informed (33%), hopeful (32%) and relieved (24%). By proactively communicating preferences and expectations, families are in a better place to make informed decisions about the care of a loved one. Whether it’s finding professionals to help you understand your options, or researching information online, there are a myriad of resources available to help families initiate this sensitive, and, oftentimes, confusing topic.

With time, you'll also become comfortable enough to have the tough conversation with your aging loved one(s) about giving up the car keys.

> How to talk to a loved one about no longer driving

> How to talk about future wishes

> 4 strategies for talking to your parent or loved one

 

Study up on senior care costs. “Raising awareness of the true costs of senior care is imperative for the financial health of families,” says Jody Gastfriend, VP of Senior Care at Care.com. Saving for retirement will help prepare you for the costs, but it also helps to know what resources you and your family have available. Is there savings available, or will the children need to help with the costs? Is someone in your family available to be a caregiver, and has a house with easy access?

 

Talk to your employer. “Offering workplace benefits like senior care advisory services or high-quality, urgent care for children and adults not only supports the wellbeing of employees and their families, but also helps employers increase loyalty, reduce turnover costs, and drive productivity,” says Michael Marty, SVP and GM of Care@Work. What type of care benefits does your employer offer? Do your siblings or any of your spouse’s get family consultation services through work. One benefit Care.com's Care@Work offers companies is senior care planning consultations. With enough time, you can advocate for your employer to offer this service as well. Learn more

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