The Interesting Elderly Long Term Care Awareness Facts That You Need to Know
By: Rosemarie Tamunday Casanova — RN, BSN, MHA
It is common knowledge that if you live long enough, you would likely be needing some form of care, usually long term care, in your twilight years when you can no longer take care of yourself and will have to depend on other people to do that for you.
It is estimated that about 70% of persons aged 65 years and above will eventually need one form of long term care or the other and this care would not only incur expenses but can take a toll on the family and friends who will be vested with the responsibility.
Therefore, it is important that both the young and the old are aware of this and start early to adequately prepare for it, in order to make it a more enjoyable and fulfilling time. The long term care awareness month being celebrated in this month of November is one such move geared to achieve this.
Its aim is to get the public increasingly aware of the fact that they and their loved ones will likely need to be cared for in Old age when they are unable to do so themselves and thus, make the needed preparations.
A short History
The national long term care awareness month was set up by the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. The aim of the set-up was to create the awareness of the need for individuals to prepare for the period of old age and dependency for themselves and their loved ones.
The concept of long term care insurance first appeared in the 70's but did not quite become popular until the late 80's and 90's when the emergence of new technologies in heath care meant that people started living longer than ever hence, the need for a way to care for the unprecedented population of old persons.
Further down the line, new concepts such as graduated care were introduced in order to allow people obtain care when they need it the most thus, making way for more people to access care.
It has become even more pertinent to celebrate this special occasion as the average life expectancy is increasing in the developed world and expectedly, also the burden of long term care of the elderly.
Some facts about old age and long term care
- Currently, most of the old persons who are getting long term care rely on help from home and that includes the children of the elderly themselves and their relatives.
- These caregivers spend a lot of time to care for their dependents.
- This time they spend giving care affects their own life and work balance, which has become known to be largely undesirable.
- Sometimes, it may take a caregiver quitting a job or changing from full time to part-time job, to be able to provide this care. At other times, it may mean cutting down on their own social life.
- Important life events such as vacations as well as the relationships of the caregivers could be adversely affected.
- In all cases, caring for an elderly person on the long term costs a significant amount of money and unsurprisingly, this can put a substantial amount of pressure on families and their means of survival.
Why the need for long term care plans?
With increasing age comes a higher chance of developing chronic illness such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, kidney disease, among others. It also comes with a greater likelihood to have accidents like a sudden fall and bone fractures, all of which would translate to a greater need for care.
Another reason to need a long term plan is to have an insurance against the dwindling income that usually comes with old age. Investing in long term care insurance now means that you would not need to pay heavy out-of pocket bills when you're no longer earning.
Moreover, no one wants to hamper their children's lives at old age by being a liability to them. Having this plan frees your loved ones of the sole responsibility of taking care of you in old age.
What can you do to participate?
Use of the media:
You can participate in spreading awareness by using both the traditional and social media to create publicity for long term care.
You can acknowledge anyone who has been a caregiver before and applaud them. Letting the public know of their efforts will help them to understand the emotional, physical and psychological toll caring for an elderly loved one takes and might also encourage them to start getting ready for themselves or their loved ones.
Start with your immediate environment
Starting the discussion on the November awareness month for long term care is another vital way of participating in the event.
If you can talk to your colleagues at work, he marketplace, school and any other place, it would be a great way to encourage them to open up on their concerns about aging and the requisite care. This can help colleagues to solicit support for those who are having challenges with coping either financially or otherwise.
You can support the awareness programs
Many organizations - both governmental and non-governmental- churches, mosques, schools, elderly care homes among others will likely be hosting lectures, symposia, outreaches, parades, and marches, in the hope of increasing awareness of the importance long term care for elderly individuals.
You can participate by joining in these events and even contributing to their success financially or otherwise.
Get an insurance
There are a number of companies who offer insurance not only for health conditions during youthful years but also for the time of old age when people can no longer work.
This will help the elderly to provide the funding for their own care when they retire, and thus save their children and loved ones the burden of putting their own lives on hold to provide care.
This will also ensure that the elderly enjoy their last years in relative comfort and fulfillment.
Old people’s homes/ Care facilities
As part of participating in this month of awareness for long term care, you can help create awareness for old people’s homes which are dedicated places for people who can no longer care for themselves mostly owing to their age.
If you have an old person at home, you can start by registering them. Also, if you're getting old and need care now and again, you may consider registering yourself for certain special arrangements such as the graduated care plan.
By doing any of the above, you can help more elderly people enjoy the twilight of their lives when their legs can no longer run and their hands quiver while trying to hold a glass of wine.