There were approximately 10.9 million unpaid caregivers (family members and friends) providing care to persons with Alzheimer's or dementia in 2009.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, those persons are at high risk of developing health problems, or worsening existing health issues. For example, family and other unpaid caregivers of people with Alzheimer's or another dementia are more likely than non-caregivers to have high levels of stress hormones, reduced immune function, slow wound healing, new hypertension and new coronary heart disease.
Spouses who are caregivers for the other spouse with Alzheimer's or other dementia are at greater risk for emergency room visits due to their health deteriorating as the result of providing care. A study mentioned in the 2010 Alzheimer's Association report found that caregivers of spouses who were hospitalized for dementia were more likely than caregivers of spouses who were hospitalized for other diseases to die in the following year.
According to the National Nursing Home Survey 2004 Study, the most recent of its kind, the national average length of stay for nursing home residents is 835 days, with over 56% of nursing home residents staying at least one year. Significantly, only 19% are discharged in less than three months. Those residents who were married or living with a partner at the time of admission had a significantly shorter average stay than those who were widowed, divorced or never married. Likewise, those who lived with a family member prior to admission also had a shorter average stay than those who lived alone prior to admission.
While a relatively small number (1.56 million) and percentage (4.5%) of the 65+ population lived in nursing homes in 2000, the percentage increased dramatically with age, ranging from 1.1% for persons 65-74 years to 4.7% for persons 75-84 years and 18.2% for persons 85+. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 68% of nursing home residents were women, and only 16% of all residents were under the age of 65. The median age of residents was 83 years.
Not only will many individuals and families face prolonged long term care, in-home care and nursing home costs continue to rise. According to the Genworth 2015 Cost of Care Survey, Assisted Living, Adult Day Services, and Home Care Costs national averages for long term care costs are as follows:
- Monthly base rate (room and board, two meals per day, housekeeping and personal care assistance) for assisted living care is $43,200 annually, expected to increase .2% annually.
- Daily rate for a private room in a nursing home is $250, or $91,250 annually, expected to increase 4% annually.
- Daily rate for a semi-private room in a nursing home is $220, or $80,300 annually, expected to increase 4% annually.
- Hourly rate for home health aides is $21.50, expected to increase 4% annually.
These costs vary significantly by region, and thus it is critical to know the costs where the individual will receive care. For example, the median annual cost for a private room in the state of California during 2015 was $104,025, whereas the median cost for a year in a semi private room was nearly $90,000.
Perhaps most importantly, despite overwhelming and compelling statistics; most Americans grossly underestimate the risk of disability to themselves and to their loved ones. According to the Council on Disability Awareness 2010 survey:
- 64% of wage earners believe they have a 2% or less chance of being disabled for 3 months or more during their working career; the actual odds for a worker entering the workforce today are closer to 25%.
- Most working Americans estimate that their own chances of experiencing a long term disability are substantially lower than the average worker’s.
Given the high costs of care, this underestimation often leaves Americans ill prepared to pay for the costs of long term care. Over the years, we've helped thousands of Virginia families plan for long term care so that these expenses can be met. If you are a caregiver for a disabled loved one, it is extremely important that you have a plan that addresses what would happen if you died before they do. We can help you with that; call us to schedule your complimentary consultation today.