How caregiving may look when my fellow Millennials need caregivers of their own.
Let's pretend it's 03/02/2071...50 years from today exactly. If I am lucky enough to have made it that far, I will be 80 years old and turning 81 within the month. For the sake of this article, due to me currently not being married or having children let's just say my life stays exactly the same. So now, I'm an 80-year-old man whose health is declining FAST, and I don't have any family to support me or care for me. From all my years of experience in the Home Care industry, I know that Alzheimer's or another form of Dementia is right around the corner (as they run in my family). So what will my options for care look like in 50 years? I realize that the advancements in technology will make life easier and that 80 maybe the new 60, physically speaking that is.
Well first off, yes people will be living longer...that seems pretty obvious. What isn't obvious is that your body living longer does not at all mean your cognition will. While deaths from heart disease dropped over 7% from 2000-2018, deaths from Alzheimer's disease skyrocketed by 140% in that same 18 year period. Alzheimer's Disease is the most common form of Dementia and the 6th most leading cause of death in America. So clearly if people are living longer, the need for some form of memory care facilities will be in need. After COVID-19, however, any facilities that host large amounts of patients are at high-risk of any potential future pandemics caused by airborne pathogens. SO maybe large facilities aren't even going to be an option.
My next option would be having a caregiver come to my house and help (using a home care agency). The only issue with home care is that there is currently a very small amount of available caregivers willing to work anymore. So unless Medicare starts to ACTUALLY cover home care, it may only be a service for the VERY wealthy. You might be saying to yourself, "but Matt, what about Medicare Advantage Plans, the commercials on TV say they now cover home care." Don't let Medicare Advantage commercials with Joe Montana fool you, the amount of coverage they provide is very limited and very tight on coverage restrictions. They also only provide a limited amount of coverage that is less than the amount the Home Care agency will charge, forcing agencies to not want to work with Medicare Advantage policies. The state ran programs are horrendous....and the caregivers they hire tend to not be half as trained, skilled, or even background checked like the caregivers of an agency.
Ok, well how about a family friend or neighbor. These are referred to as "private-duty" caregivers. ANYTIME YOU HEAR A HORROR STORY ABOUT A SENIOR BEING TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF IT IS ALMOST ALWAYS BECAUSE OF EITHER A PRIVATE DUTY CAREGIVER OR A LEGAL GUARDIAN. Private duty caregivers tend to be neighbors, friends, or something similar...but they are usually available to help out with the care of your loved one BECAUSE THEY HAD NOTHING ELSE TO DO WITH THEIR TIME...remember that. Anytime I have worked with a family that had a private duty caregiver, I always knew there was going to be an issue. They are never trained in proper mechanics but yet the family has known them longer and thinks they know their parent better than an agency...and then that private duty caregiver drops mom and instead of calling 911 she takes the jewelry and leaves town.
Ok Matt, so you've ruled out facilities, home care, & private duty home care...what's left?
Nothing...and that's my point.
The current system is not designed for longevity and is not sustainable for very much longer. The government is seriously going to have to do something before my generation requires assistance with Activities of Daily Living. There are currently not enough people who are willing to work as professional caregivers in any setting, and family members are being called on to become family caregivers at even younger ages. Early-onset Alzheimer's is on the rise. We must find a way to reallocate government funds from other sectors and start to REALLY plan for the future.