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Are We on the Brink of an Eldercare Crisis?

A scarcity of home health aides is putting pressure on families coping with caregiving

AS WONDERFUL AS A long life can be, it also increases the likelihood that you or someone you love will develop serious health issues—and that you’ll struggle to find caregiving solutions.

In the U.S., more than 12 million people need long-term health care, according to the National Council on Aging. Only 12% of adults aged 65 or older have private long-term-care insurance, and Medicare generally doesn’t cover long-term care. As a result, more than 44 million Americans now act as unpaid caregivers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics—many of them women. In the next decade, the demand for health aides to relieve family members may exceed supply by 3 million.

What You Can Do
In 2013, Congress created a commission that recommended ways to address the need for long-term care. Until they’re in place, says Cynthia Hutchins, director of Financial Gerontology at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, “there are things you can do to build a support system.”

Start with an honest discussion among parents, children and your financial advisor. “Everyone—not just the daughter or son who happens to live closest to a parent—needs to be part of the eldercare conversation,” Hutchins says. “Siblings who live far away can provide financial support or help by communicating with a parent’s physicians or accountant.”

In the next decade, the demand for health aides to relieve family members may exceed supply by 3 million

Also consider the range of possibilities to get the help you need. Geriatric care managers can coordinate parents’ care, accompany them to doctors’ appointments and handle medical emergencies. And if you’re taking care of your parents, reach out to caregiver support groups. Not only will you get emotional support but “you’ll be surprised at what services others in the group might recommend to help you,” Hutchins says.

Finally, look into your employer’s paid family-leave policies. Hutchins notes that many companies, including Bank of America, are expanding their paid family leave to help employees be there for their families when they need them most.


What are some of the ways families can prepare in advance for the possibility that one of them may need long-term care? Watch “Alzheimer’s and Your Family” for practical suggestions.

Transcript of Video

3 Questions to Ask Your Advisor

  1. What are some strategies I might consider to prepare for health care costs in retirement?
  2. Is long-term care insurance something to look into?
  3. I’ve heard there are promising medical developments that might help improve longevity, and that might also be good investments. What are some areas to consider?

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Long-term care insurance coverage contains benefits, exclusions, limitations, eligibility requirements and specific terms and conditions under which the insurance coverage may be continued in force or discontinued. Not all insurance policies and types of coverage may be available in your state.

This material should be regarded as general information on health-care considerations and is not intended to provide specific health-care advice. If you have any questions regarding your particular situation, please contact your legal or tax advisor.


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