This November, National Family Caregivers Month, we have been sharing a series of stories, real experiences from real family caregivers. These experiences were collected and documented as a series of interviews conducted by HCG Secure and Arctos Foundation.
Gary first got involved with his 84-year-old mom’s care when she got lost driving one day. She was becoming increasingly forgetful and needed day-to-day help with cooking, errands, and cleaning. He lives only ten minutes from his mother and his brother ultimately bought a house next-door so they could both be close to her as she needed help. Gary is in his sixties and was already thinking about retirement, but his mom’s need for support pushed him to retire earlier than he had expected. While Gary felt financially ready for retirement, too often adult children sacrifice their own retirement savings and financial security to care for a parent with family caregivers sacrificing, on average, $300,000 in lost income and benefits when they leave the workforce.
Unlike most Americans, Gary’s mom was prepared with a Long-Term Care Insurance policy she had held for many years. This advance financial planning allowed the family to afford in-home care as she needed greater support. Gary was responsible for managing her in-home care and acknowledged how lucky his family was to have their loved one prepared to afford long-term services and supports.
When Gary’s wife’s family was going through a similar situation, Gary saw how the adult children struggled to “made it work” without the support insurance can provide. Seeing how both families managed long-term care needs left Gary conflicted: “I see what a benefit [Long-Term Care Insurance] was for my mother. The policies now are so unaffordable, it’s out of reach.”
Gary’s acknowledgement of affordability issues when it comes to LTC feels universal in the aging space. The best advice seems to be ‘make a plan for retirement,’ but this preparation comes with a steep price tag. For too long, preparation in retirement has been a privilege afforded by few. As National Family Caregiver Awareness Month comes to a close, we want to encourage individuals to explore lower-cost insurance options, like those offered by HCG Secure, and to to support candidates and policies focused on protecting our seniors and expanding access to necessary care.