A recent study has shown that, as the need for elder care is growing, a lot of that care is being provided by women. In order to care for aging parents, many women are forced to cut back to part-time work or leave their jobs entirely, so that they can provide the care their elderly family members need. The study, “Women Working Longer: Labor Market Implications of Providing Family Care”, was carried out by Sean Fahle, Ph.D., at the State University of New York at Buffalo, and Kathleen McGarry, Ph.D. at U.C.L.A.
“People are living longer, Alzheimer’s is projected to increase, and meanwhile family sizes are shrinking, so the burden of caregiving is falling on fewer children,” said Dr. Fahle. The usual care provided is helping seniors with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, cooking and eating. The study found that the demand on children peaks when they are about age 56.
The U. S. Department of Health estimates that about 70% of elderly people will need help with daily activities and 20% of them will need help for five years or more. The study suggests that the lack of affordable long-term care options can have a substantial impact on employment rates as more women leave the work force or cut back on working hours to provide the care their family members need.
This study has implications on many fronts. Not only is most of the parental care provided by women, but more and more of these women are also single parents, many of whom are still taking care of children. They are the ones least able financially to reduce or eliminate their incomes, should their parents need assistance. With or without the pressure of caring for their own children, many of them will end up limiting or ending their careers prematurely during their peak earning years. This may leave them in a more vulnerable financial position as they approach their own retirement years.
Fortunately, in New York, significant government assistance is available for seniors who need help. Seniors who need home care can become eligible for Community Medicaid, which provides assistance in a non-institutional environment, without the five-year “look back” that Medicaid imposes for nursing home care. This can be an economic lifesaver for a child who cannot afford to become a caregiver and thus reduce or eliminate her (or his) income.
Establishing an asset protection trust, and protecting their income with a pooled income trust, can enable seniors to remain in their homes, get the long-term care they need, and avoid becoming a burden to their children.
At Lamson & Cutner, P.C., we focus on each individual family’s particular long-term care needs. Our goal is to enable seniors to gain access to the care they need, and to the government assistance that is available to help pay for it. We usually can provide solutions that avoid the necessity of daughters (or sons) having to cut back or leave work in order to provide their parents with care at home.
Our Elder Law attorneys will work with each family to advise how they can gain access to home care benefits provided by Medicaid, and regarding the use of Medicaid asset protection trusts, pooled income trusts, and other specialized tools of our Elder Law practice. Go to Your Situation to find out how we could help in your particular circumstances.