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Family Caregiving and Aging in Place

by Louis on October 5, 2011

Why is family caregiving so important? Why is Aging in Place so important to family caregiving?

Two recent overlapping studies, one from the AARP Public Policy Institute called “Valuing the Invaluable“, and one from the MetLife Mature Marketing Institute along with the National Alliance for Caregiving and the Center for Long Term Care Research and Policy sub-titled Double Jeopardy for Baby Boomers Caring for Their Parents paint a pretty full view of the value and cost of family caregiving.

The numbers are huge. The value of family and informal caregiving (in 2009) is estimated in excess of $450 Billion. This is value we provide to the care needs of our nation’s older citizens.  The money has to come from somewhere.  An alternative? Just think of asking congress.

Costs. One in four adults over 50 is a caregiver. “The total estimated lost wages, pension, and Social Security benefits of these caregivers of parents is nearly $3 trillion.” The total average cost impact- lost wages, pensions and social security benefits to an individual caregiver is over $300,000. So, WE are already paying for it.

How does aging in place figure in? Aging in Place facilitates family caregiving. If the folks you are caring for are in the community, or even in the house, with you caring for them is easier. If they are somewhere else, some remote purpose built senior housing facility built on a large empty parcel for example, your travel is increased, meaning the time you devote to caregiving increases while the ratio of quality time  you spend with them is reduced.  Management and control is easier at home. In a senior housing facility you are dealing with a whole host of others in some system or bureaucracy. Typically a frustrating use of your time.

We must do everything we can to hold on to that value. Tele-health can play a role, but more important is the systematic infrastructure, Aging in Place 2.0, supporting family caregivers. That is our best bet for holding costs down and providing care with respect and dignity.

We don’t need a study to know that family care is best. These studies show that it is really  good value for society (even if it is a poor return on investment for the individual families). The buck starts and stops with our hearts, hands and wallets on the job. Family Caregiving AND Aging in Place are critically important for all of us.

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