Happy New Year! I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday season.
I’m starting the year off with an article that will hopefully get you thinking about the visit home you might have had over the holidays.
Being a caregiver can be overwhelming and exhausting. Also, consider the frustration, guilt, mental strain, and physical impact it can have. Many caregivers are happy to take on this role. They may feel a sense of honor, or a way to give back, while some can see it as a responsibility or an obligation thrust upon them. Regardless of the caregiver’s intentions or desires, without proper planning and support, the negative consequences can be set in motion fairly quickly.
According to a recent study by National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, the average caregiver is a 49 year old woman caring for a 69 year old female. These caregivers, who are 60% women, are also working full time (34%) or part time (25%). On average, caregivers provide assistance 24 hours per week, and a quarter spend more than 40 hours per week.
You may be asking, “how can someone prepare for caring for an aging loved one?” First, ask some simple questions:
- Do you know what your loved one’s wishes are as they age?
- Do you know what role you and/or other family members will have when caring for a loved one?
- Do you know if your loved one has the necessary legal documents and where to find them?
- Do you know the vital medical information needed to be a caregiver?
If you can’t answer these questions with absolute certainty and not with “I think so,” then additional preparation is needed. How much better of a caregiver do you think someone is if those 4 questions can be answered, and the caregiver doesn’t have to do it all on her/his own?
Caregiving doesn’t just mean to care for an aging loved one. It also refers to helping someone with a mental illness or special needs. It is estimated that 25% of all care provided was to someone with a mental illness or developmental/intellectual disorder. Regardless of the needs of the care recipient, it is essential the caregivers are supported and educated about the diagnosis and what the future may hold. Furthermore, there is minimal difference with the effects of caregiving for someone with a mental illness vs. aging.
The rate that caregivers report their health as fair to poor is twice that of the general population. Additionally, the longer care is provided, the more likely a caregiver’s health declines. Caregivers tend to have a higher rate of depression, headaches, heart disease, bodily pain, acid reflux, and other mental health issues. Much of this is the result of poor self-care of the caregiver. They spend so much time caring for someone else, they forget or don’t have time to care for themselves.
The financial impact of caregiving is noteworthy. Studies have reported an average loss of $283,000 to $320,000 over the lifetime of a caregiver. This loss includes total wages, social security, and pension. The effect of caregiving to an employer is also worth mentioning. Due to a decrease in employee production while on the job, time off (both paid and unpaid), replacing employees, and change in employment status (full time to part time), businesses lose about $33 billion dollars.
So what do you do to prepare and how can the negative impact be reduced when caring for an aging loved one? First, start conversations with potential care recipients, as well as the possible caregivers, prior to care being needed. Allowing the care recipients to provide solutions and answers to the questions that need to be addressed, such as taking the “guesswork” out of their wishes, is invaluable. Furthermore, early discussions can also help preserve relationship and communication among the various caregivers. Second, having quick access to the vital information, such as medical information, legal documents, and key information, can save not only time, but money, as well.
When caring for a person with a mental illness or special needs, the information needed can be slightly different, but no less important. For example, caregivers need to educate themselves on coping strategies, community resources, as well as guidance on how to set boundaries and goals.
Rob Novick graduated from the University of Texas in Austin in 1994, with a Bachelors degree in psychology. He received his Masters of Science in Social Work in 1998 from the University of Texas in Arlington, graduating first in his class. Since then, he has achieved the highest certification offered by the state of Texas as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). His specialty has been working with patients of all ages with mental illness, as well as those suffering from dementia, Parkinson’s, and other illnesses acquired later in life. He has worked in some of the top rated hospitals in the Dallas Metroplex, including Zale Lipshy University Hospital, Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, and on St. Paul University Hospital campus. For four years, he worked at Planned Living Assistance Network of North Texas (PLAN) as a therapist and eventually the Director of Clinical Services. He held Director-level positions at Green Oaks Hospital for both inpatient and outpatient services. Since 2013, Rob has served as the EAP Director for the Texas Rangers Baseball Club.
Full Circle Advisors (FCA) is a company in the life transition planning industry. FCA offers a solution that proactively develops partnerships to provide counseling, guidance, and accountability. This is accomplished by advising families who are currently or will eventually provide care to aging loved ones and those with mental disorders. When working with Full Circle Advisors, families will be educated on ways to deliver care, what documents are needed, understanding of what the future may look like, self-care techniques, and support. Providing care doesn’t have to be done alone, nor should it be. FCA equips families with the tools, resources, and education to carry out the best level of care they can to the ones they love the most. You can contact Rob here:
Rob Novick, LCSW
If you would like further information or assistance getting your estate planning affairs in order, please contact Euless, Texas Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney, Antoinette Bone, at (817) 462-5454 or email [email protected].
To comply with the U.S. Treasury regulations, we must inform you that (i) any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this newsletter was not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by any person for the purpose of avoiding U.S. federal tax penalties that may be imposed on such person and (ii) each taxpayer should seek advice from their tax advisor based on the taxpayer’s particular circumstances.
Nothing in this message is intended to provide legal advice. This message is for educational purposes only.