Julianne Moore gives us a disturbingly beautiful performance as she portrays a college professor diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease. This is real life for so many people whose parents have been diagnosed with this dreadful disease. We are being told that 1 in 12 people over 65 will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and 1 in 3 people will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s by the age of 85. This is truly a frightening thought and life changing for an entire population of younger people who will need to care for their parents.
In 2014, the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance reported that the nation’s long term care insurance companies paid a record $7.85 billion in claim benefits to 250,000 individuals. In 2012 that number was $6.6 billion paid out to approximately 264,000 policyholders. This is an increase of $1.2 billion dollars and these numbers will continue to grow by even higher amounts as the boomer generation ages.
It occurs to me that the people with long term care insurance policies are the lucky ones.
Sure, those without policies still get cared for but at what cost? They rely on their families to provide their care. Those caught in the “Sandwich Generation” leave their children to care for their parents. They spend their time, quit their jobs, leave work early, and juggle their own families to provide care for their parents. They have their parents move in or rotate between the siblings. The daughters are most affected as the daughters in our society do the majority of caregiving. According to the National Caregivers Association, in 2014 the real cost of this “free care” was estimated to be the equivalent of spending $522 billion dollars!
And while this number is mind boggling , by far the bigger cost is on the quality of life for an entire generation. We love our parents and it is a gift that we give to our parents to provide their care. And yet, the impacts often cause depression, stress between spouses and siblings and plenty of resentment. It is sad enough to watch our loved ones deteriorate, it is devastating to have to devote our lives to their care.
Long term care insurance is still the best answer I have for providing care. It allows those needing care to maintain their independence and dignity and it enables family members to live their own lives. There is nothing more we can do for the people we love.