Caregivers put their future at risk


Most Americans seriously underestimate the savings they will need to pay for their long-term care needs, and caregivers are sacrificing their own financial futures to help care for older loved ones, a new white paper says.

The report, Boomer Bust 2011: Still Unprepared and Unaware, says policymakers should make caregivers’ unmet needs a priority.

The wave of 78 million Baby Boomers, the first of them turning age 65 this year, “threatens to cripple our financial and health-care systems and significantly burden future generations,” Volunteers of America, which commissioned the report with Lake Research and American Viewpoint, says in a statement.

Many people, especially women, currently care for their parents or other loved ones, the report says, and most women surveyed who are not currently caregivers expect they will be providing care at some time in the future.

According to a 1999 study, the report says, 33 percent of working women decreased their work hours to care for a loved one; 29 percent turned down a job promotion, training or assignment; 22 percent took a leave of absence; and 20 percent moved from full-time to part-time employment.

On the whole, the report says, “things have not changed for women in regard to serving as the primary hands-on caregiver for a parent, in-law, spouse or other loved one.”

Caregivers say the economy is making it harder on them financially, the report says, and only one in 10 is paid for any of the care they provide.

“There is too great a cost on the family level and on the national economic level as a whole,” the report says. “This is no longer an issue that can be pushed along to future Congresses. Baby boomers began turning 65 this year and the nation is not ready for their future care needs or costs.”

Forty percent the 1,200 adults ages 45 and older who responded to a phone survey say they are worried about saving enough for their own retirement but are not clear on the true costs and lack excess income to address future goals.

Survey respondents support policies to let seniors remain in their own homes for as long as possible and receive care in home- and community-based settings.

Respondents believe caregivers should be paid by Medicare and Medicaid for the services they provide to let them continue saving and meet their current financial and future retirements.

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