Here are three frequent responses when the issue of long-term care planning comes up:

  1. It won’t happen to me (Get me that crystal ball and I’ll use it to pick stocks too!)
  2. I don’t want to think about it (Who does? But statistically it probably will happen)
  3. My children will take care of me. (Do they know?)

So, here comes some new information that may alter your thinking about excuse #3:

Employees in the U.S. who are caring for an older relative are more likely to report health problems like depression, diabetes, hypertension or heart disease. That costs employers an estimated $13.4 billion per year, according to a MetLife Study of Working Caregivers and Employer Health Care Costs. And some of those health care costs are borne directly by the employee, as well.
So, to put it bluntly, taking care of you may cost your children their good health.
Here are some additional findings:

  • Employees providing eldercare were more likely to report fair or poor health in general.
  • Younger caregivers (18-39 years old) demonstrated significantly higher rates of cholesterol, hypertension, COPD, depression, kidney disease, and heart disease compared to non-caregivers of the same age.
  • Caregivers tend to skip their own preventive health screenings such as mammograms.
  • Caregivers are more likely to miss days of work and are often forced to switch from full-time to part-time to care for their elder reducing their income and losing health care coverage.
  • Eldercare may be closely associated with high-risk behaviors like smoking and alcohol consumption.

While eldercare is usually considered an older worker (50+) issue, this survey shows the heaviest health toll is taken by those ages 18-39.  This report doesn’t go into the financial toll it can take as well on the caregiver who often delays their own retirement saving while they care for their elder.

The report calls on employers for better coordination of wellness and eldercare programs, more work time flexibility and stress reduction seminars, among other benefits.  “They need solutions so they can be healthier and perform better,” said Gail Hunt of the National Alliance for Caregivers.

But, this report is also a wake-up call to anyone thinking that having their adult children care for them as they age is a long-term care solution with no consequences. It’s good reason to put a long-term care plan in place for when you need it and to figure out now how to finance your long-term care, whether through your own assets or long-term care insurance or some combination.

That way your children can lend a hand and emotional support as needed and preserve their good health.

NOTE: Talk to Karen about creating client care plans so they do not have to depend on their children.