Tuesday, November 7, 2017
The Future of Caregiving: The Coming Caregiving Crunch is a report released in October 2917 by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave that provides interesting data points to identify challenges and action items tied to aging in the U.S. The information in the report was generated by surveys of more than 2,200 individuals, including "nonprofessional" caregivers.
While perhaps it is tempting to assume we are already feeling the effects of retirement for the Boomer generation, this report reminds us that we still haven't had the "first" boomer hit 80 years of age, which is when the likelihood of needing care or assistance increases.
The report suggests that "denial" is a huge problem. While 7 in 10 Americans turning 65 today will need "care for prolonged periods" in their later years, only 4 in 10 Americans believe they personally are likely to "ever" need such care. Certainly Merrill Lynch has a goal to increase consumer awareness of a need for realistic financial planning, some of the most interesting parts of the report addressed not just the need for adequate savings, but the likelihood that families could benefit from "financial coordinators." The report used this term for people with the skills to handle (or monitor/oversee) such tasks as:
- paying bills from proper accounts
- monitoring bank accounts and access to accounts
- handling insurance claims
- filing taxes
- managing invested assets
The writers observe:
Financial caregiving is nearly uncharted territory, with little research identifying the flow and pace of transactions that individuals and their families experience as they navigate the caregiving journey. Similarly, little has been studied about the ways in which caregivers and care recipients need help financially. As Boomers age, the need for assistance in tracking, managing and paying for care-related expenses in complex relationships is destined to grow.
The writers warn that family members are frequently unprepared for the responsibilities that caring for an elder may involve, especially given the fact that Boomers are much more unlikely than previous generations to living near their own children.