May 15, 2018 by Comfort Keepers of Riverside and Corona
In terms of long-term health care, many seniors are choosing to remain in their homes and age in place. This allows them to receive the much-needed care in the comforts of their own house, leading many to have happier end-of-life experiences than previously.
However, we’ve been severely underestimating the hidden cost of informal caregiving these past few years, and it’s only going to get worse in the decades to come.
Here’s what to know about informal caregiving, this potential economic crisis and how it can possibly be averted:
Many seniors who age in place receive help from a hired, or professional, caregiver. This person can help them with a variety of needs (depending on their scope of practice), ranging from:
However, a large portion of seniors instead relies on informal caregivers. These caregivers are typically family members such as a spouse, adult child or another loved one who is providing care free of charge. This form of caregiving is not only more economically wise for many families, but it’s also a great way for the senior receiving care to socialize with other loved ones.
For stroke and heart disease patients, informal caregiving is a large asset to their healthcare. What hasn’t been realized is how costly this informal care may be in the years to come.
It is estimated that almost half of the U.S. population – over 131 million Americans – will be living with heart disease and stroke aftermath by 2035.
A study on heart disease and stroke patients estimates that also by this year, the costs for informal caregiving will be:
The costs are going up primarily for two reasons. For starters, more patients will be diagnosed with heart disease and stroke in the years to come due to the population growing older, thus causing more people to require informal care.
Correspondingly, the increase in caregiving needs in total as well as a per-individual basis is increasing strain on the informal caregivers themselves, putting them at risk for health conditions and financial struggle.
The American Heart Association suggests policy changes to be made sooner rather than later to help protect informal caregivers and prevent this future economic crisis.
Suggested changes include: