Countless dedicated, unselfish individuals who have dedicated their lives for the service of others deserve our gratitude. Whether they are Veterans, emergency first responders, or simply one of millions of ordinary citizens who voluntarily make sacrifices to help someone.
That includes personal caregivers – the countless women and men who provide support to others who need assistance with some aspects of their daily lives. In many cases, caregivers work without any kind of payment, typically when caring for a family member or close friend.
It would be hard to come up with a brief definition of the term “caregiver,” because it encompasses so many different responsibilities and unique situations. A caregiver may perform occasional basic favors like running errands or doing laundry, but at the other end of the spectrum, many caregivers actually live alongside the people they care for, providing a wide range of around-the-clock functions such as bathing, cooking, health care needs, and much more.
The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that about 65 million Americans qualify as caregivers in some form, either full- or part-time. According to AARP, more than 42 million of those caregivers are unpaid – representing almost $450 billion worth of free service.
The numbers are growing
The demand for caregivers is increasing as the Baby Boom generation gets older. A report from the Institute on Aging predicts that by the year 2030, approximately 20 percent of the United States population will be over the age of 65. Elder adults naturally are more likely to require care and assistance.
To further complicate that situation, the number of seniors living alone also is growing. The U.S. Census Bureau has determined that over 11 million Americans ages 65 or older now live by themselves. Similarly, more people in the age 55 to 64 population are choosing to live alone. As of 2013, approximately 21 percent of them were single-person households. It simply stands to reason that those older citizens living on their own ultimately will need the help of a caregiver as their abilities inevitably decline.
Be prepared for needing a caregiver
Given current demographics – an aging population, longer life expectancies, and more people living alone – the future demand for caregivers is ominous. Who will provide supplemental care for all of those older adults? Who will pay for this care? Most may someday have to face those questions, either to find a qualified caregiver for ourselves, or to take on the responsibility of arranging care for a relative or friend.
That potential dilemma is one of many reasons to retain the services of an attorney experienced in elder law. Hiring paid caregivers, either for in-home services or in an assisted-living facility, can quickly deplete someone’s savings and assets. There are tragic stories about people who did not effectively plan for such an eventuality, and it cost them dearly.
However, a knowledgeable elder law attorney can create protection plans and health care contingencies to help people obtain proper, affordable caregiving services throughout their later years. At the same time, good planning can assure that someone’s assets will be passed to their loved ones as intended.
The National Association of Estate Planners and Councils believe that over half of all adult Americans have no up-to-date estate plan, or even a basic last will and testament. Without adequate legal protection, those individuals may be setting themselves up for devastating financial setbacks.
An estate plan allows an individual to establish a vital strategy if he or she becomes ill or incapacitated. In addition to protecting assets, the plan designates who will be responsible for the person’s care if that becomes necessary.
Similarly, a Power of Attorney document authorizes someone to formally appoint a trusted relative or friend to make decisions on their behalf. With a Power of Attorney, the chosen surrogate can step in and represent the best interests of the principal individual who may be physically or cognitively impaired and in need of caregivers.
Let a qualified professional explain your best strategies
The experienced elder law attorneys at TuckerAllen specialize in affordable smart solutions for wills, trusts, Power of Attorney documents, and other essential aspects of estate plans, including long-term provisions for special-needs adults.
TuckerAllen also offers complimentary educational webinars, where we explain a range of estate plan options and asset protection programs, all in terms that are easy to understand.
To learn more, contact us today. In the meantime, if you know any caregivers, remember to thank them for their service. They have earned our appreciation.