By Jeffrey Lewis
President/CEO of Legacy Health Endowment in Turlock Ca.
We live in a political world today where indecision and inaction echo within the halls of Congress and State Capitols across America. The biggest risks to our financial security in retirement, healthcare expenses and long-term care costs, continue to be ignored by elected officials and those who seek to replace them.
Policymakers fail to grasp that 70 percent of Californians over the age of 65 will need some form of long-term care and support services. Complicating this will be the fact that the wave of aging seniors will have insufficient savings to pay for healthcare and caregiver services, so the children of aging parents will continue to be financially constrained in helping their parents. Further, an increasing strain of state and federal budgets will limit the ability to help all aging Californians and their families.
Two important facts compound the crisis: a long-term care model that was created decades ago that does not reflect a drastically changed population, and insufficient preparation and planning to meet the needs of baby boomers’ anticipated needs as they continue to grow older.
For many families, the long-term care roller coaster ride starts with a phone call, often in the middle of the night, with a voice saying, “I’m calling about your father.” And for most, they won’t know if dad is financially prepared for this new phase of his life, or if they will now pick up the tab for the array of services he will need to remain in his home for as long as possible. And if he needs more care than can be provided at home, the financial burden to the family is significant, eating into savings for their own retirement costs, thereby ensuring the next generation will face aging with no savings as well.
In the end, children of aging parents or an aging spouse exhaust their financial resources. There is no long-term care policy. It was talked about but was too expensive at age 68. When it comes to preparing for the health necessities of old age – ensuring healthy, affordable independence for seniors – we are failing.