The realities of long term care for elderly
The statistics are staggering.
About 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 each day and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that more than 70 percent of people over 65 will require long-term care services at some point.
South Carolina is among states with a fast-growing aging population, with natives and career-related transplants being supplemented by a flow of older people moving here as a destination in later life.
The reality has prompted state leaders to warn that more and more emphasis must be placed on caring for the elderly, both because the state presently devotes too few resources and because few people make preparations for an inevitable part of life that can drain a family both emotionally and financially.
More and more, the need for long-term care approaches the crisis level as people live longer. That means family members may be thrust into participation whether ready or not, says Chris Orestis, senior health-care advocate and CEO of Life Care Funding (lifecarefunding.com).
“In many situations the need for care will creep up on a family,” Orestis says. “Suddenly, people realize they have assumed duties that take up more and more of their time, and take a toll on their lives.”
Over the years, he says, he has seen these family members gravitate naturally to roles that fall into several stereotypes.
• Caretaker – This person provides care for the loved one at home and, without realizing it, becomes a fulltime caregiver. Usually, this is a spouse or an adult child, most often a daughter.
• Bookkeeper – This person focuses on the financial aspects, trying to determine what assets or insurance policies are available to help with the costs of care.
• Chauffeur – This family member drives the loved one to appointments, runs errands, makes grocery runs and eventually may drive the aging loved one to tour assisted-living facilities.
• Guardian – This family member takes on such roles as power of attorney or trustee, assuming the legal responsibilities within the family.
• Denier – This person can’t accept or admit that the loved one, or they themselves, need care.
• Know-it-all – Most annoying of all, this family member constantly questions decisions, or lobs suggestions from the back bench, but isn’t near the situation or involved hands-on.
With such a lineup, it’s easy for resentments to build, Orestis says, but that needs to be avoided because the focus should be on the aging loved one and easing the transition if a decision is made to move into a nursing home or assisted-living facility.
Eventually, once it’s clear professional long-term care is needed and a plan is in place to make it happen, a conversation needs to take place with the loved one, who may be apprehensive or even resistant, Orestis says.
The conversation should be handled with compassion and delicacy, he says. Emphasize that not only will this move improve their health and safety, but there will be numerous opportunities for social activities, games, art, entertainment and great food.
As in most every instance of life decisions, finding common ground is vital.
As Orestis says: “The key is for the family to come together. Look for the signs that care is needed, formulate a plan, communicate effectively with your loved ones and change the perspective about long-term care from a negative to a safe, healthy and enriching experience in the continuing journey of life.”
This article originally appeared on TandD.com: The realities of long-term care for elderly - http://thetandd.com/news/opinion/editorial/the-realities-of-long-term-care-for-elderly/article_787a3a02-f46f-5478-ad82-98e8b848bc7b.html