People in the U.S. are fortunate to have a longer average life expectancy than people in most other countries. Living longer, however, comes at a price. It often means spending more time battling the aging process and increases the odds of needing a caregiver or nursing home. If you find yourself headed toward the need for a caregiver, your initial preference is probably to have a family caregiver take care of you at home. While this is certainly understandable, the Los Angeles elder law attorneys at Schomer Law Group, APC point out why a family caregiver is not always the best option.
Caregiver Facts and Figures
Family members provide a shocking number of hours of care to loved ones in the U.S. each year, often at great financial, physical, and mental cost to themselves. Consider some of the following facts and figures relating to caregivers:
- About 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the last 12 months.
- About 15.7 million adult family caregivers care for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia.
- Many caregivers of older adults are themselves growing older. The average caregiver of a recipient 65 years of age or older is 63 years old. Of these caregivers, one-third report being in fair to poor health.
- Family caregivers spend an average of 24.4 hours per week providing care. Nearly 1 in 4 caregivers spend 41 hours or more per week providing care.
- Family caregivers who reside with those they provide care for spend 40.5 hours per week caring for this person.
- Only 30 percent of caregivers provide care for less than a year.
- In almost 60 percent of elder abuse and neglect incidents, the perpetrator is a family member. Two thirds of perpetrators are adult children or spouses.
Is a Family Caregiver Always the Best Option?
When offered a choice between a family caregiver and a nursing home, most people would say they prefer to have a family member provide care for them in their old age. Most family members would also say they prefer to provide care to an aging loved one than to place their family member in a nursing home. The real question though is whether a family caregiver is truly the best choice for everyone. Often, the answer is that it is not the best choice for several reasons. A family caregiver’s life is often turned upside down, causing both practical problems and unacknowledged resentment in some cases. If the caregiver gave up a job to be able to provide care, the financial repercussions can cause serious stress and strain on the caregiver and his/her family. That stress and strain, in turn, can cause even the most devoted caregiver to snap, sometimes leading to abuse or neglect. It can also lead to an increase in the rate at which the caregiver’s health deteriorates as well.
Ultimately, whether a family caregiver is right for you or not is something only you and your potential caregiver can decide. If you do decide that a nursing home is a better option, there are several legal and financial considerations that should be discussed with an experienced elder law attorney.
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