As a parent, you could be busy changing diapers, preparing meals and transporting children to their appointments and activities. You’ve spent a lot of time, and money, to provide care to your children and you may be anticipating relief of the financial burden and time commitment as you look forward the future.
What you may not have considered is the increasing trend of family members providing in-home care and support for those needing health care. This includes aging baby boomer parents and children, siblings and even spouses with disabilities or serious injuries.
There are economic and social benefits when care of loved ones is provided at home. Delaying nursing home or institutional care of just one person for several months can save government programs, like Medicaid, tens of thousands of dollars and provide a higher quality of life for the person receiving in-home care. However, this approach certainly has its challenges. A new white paper released in August 2017 by UnitedHealthcare’s Medicaid business details the challenges and opportunities of family caregiving.
There are an estimated 43 million people nationwide that provide support and assistance to loved ones with acute, chronic and disabling health conditions. More than half of the people receiving care are under age 75, almost a third are under the age of 50. Often this role comes with little preparation and immediate expectations, with minimal support. In addition, almost half of family caregivers perform medical or nursing tasks and many also manage medications – even administering IV fluids and injections.
The demands of caregiving can take significant tolls physically, emotionally and financially on those providing care. It can be a challenge to find time to attend medical appointments, perform errands, manage cooking and other household tasks. One study found that one in three caregivers rate their stress level as high and half say they have less time to spend with family and friends. Many say they do not have time to take care of themselves and even when they have the time, they said that they are too tired to do so. Finally, nearly 4 in 10 caregivers experience a financial strain with families spending an average of $6,300 on out-of-pocket family support expenses.
UnitedHealthcare is committed to improving the well-being of family caregivers and is continuing to develop initiatives that help promote optimal health outcomes for those we serve. Supporting caregivers is something we must all prioritize as we look to serve people in the community and prepare for a growing aging population. Together – health plans, policy makers, providers – we can strengthen caregivers improving their ability to serve family members and help support their health and well-being.