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Do you have caregivers and don’t realize it?

How's that Home Assistance Working Out for You?

Compliments of Andrew Rafal arafal@strategyfinancialgroup.com. 

According to a Pew Research study, 4 out of 10 U.S. adults now care for a sick or elderly family member, and nearly half of adults expect to care for an elderly parent or relative at some point. In fact, the number of caregivers increased by 10 percent from 2010 to 2013.2 

You may not even know that your son, daughter or grandchild qualifies as an official "caregiver." But ask yourself, does your daughter run to the grocery store for you, bring you dishes she's cooked for her family and wash dishes or fold your laundry whenever she drops by? Does your son remind you to make medical appointments and drive you to the doctor or drugstore when you need a prescription filled? Does your collegiate granddaughter drop by once a week just to say hi (and peek at your mail to see if you're paying bills)? 

Well yes, these are examples of thoughtful, caring family members. But these are also examples of what family caregivers do regularly all over the country. As you age, you may not even realize that you come to rely on these small, periodic acts of kindness - and get a little annoyed when they don't happen often enough. 

It seems a rite of passage for older adults to begin relying on their adult children to help them as they age. However, recognize that as your needs encroach more and more on their time, it can also impact your children's lives. In fact, Genworth's "2014 Cost of Care Survey" revealed that3:

  • One-third of caregivers provided 30 or more hours of care per week; the average weekly time requirement is 21 hours.
  • 65% of caregivers missed work, ranging from working less and being late or absent to losing jobs or having to change career paths altogether.
  • 46% said that providing care impacted their personal health and well-being and 34% indicated a negative impact on their family in general.
  • 58% reported cutting into discretionary spending, including eating out and/or buying new clothes or a new car, because of their care-related responsibility.

To put these insights into perspective, consider what your life was like when you were the age of your children now, and whether you had the same parental responsibilities and how well you handled - or would've handled - them back then. 

Consider the time your family members may be dedicating to making sure you're doing fine, and whether or not you want them to experience any adverse impacts in their job or lifestyle on your behalf. It may be worth looking into other caregiving options on your own to relieve some of the responsibilities your children may have assumed - to ensure that the time you spend with your family now is truly quality time. 

Recent innovations and practices to help older Americans live more independently include:

  • Personal medical alert systems to summon help quickly should you fall or need medical attention
  • Video monitoring that allows your family to check in on you via the Internet
  • Smartphone apps with alarm clocks and calendar reminders for medications and appointments
  • Hiring a home design specialist to retrofit your home for improved mobility and safety
  • Looking into public transportation or personal driver services
  • Hiring a handy man to clean your gutters, replace light bulbs and other basic tasks
  • Walking or engaging in some type of low-impact exercise every day to help you stay active and nimble

Not only could incorporating some of these ideas into your life help you become less dependent on others, but they can help provide peace of mind to your family members. One of the greatest concerns for family caregivers is that they don't think their parents fully understand or appreciate their own limitations - and therefore take unnecessary risks. By taking the initiative to incorporate a few fail-safe systems, you can convey that you do understand and want to relieve some of the mental stress that comes with looking after a family member. You, as a parent yourself, can certainly recognize the value in that. 

After all, even adult family caregivers can still use help and appreciation from their parents.

The information and opinions contained herein are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. They are given for informational purposes only and are not a solicitation to buy or sell the products mentioned. The information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual's situation. 

If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference. 

By contacting us, you may be provided with information regarding the purchase of insurance products.

1 Merrill Lynch, "The End of Old," accessed on May 28, 2014 athttp://insights.wm.ml.com/articles/the-end-of-old.html?referrer=home#fbid=H533EkDLVIl.
2 Huffington Post, "Caregivers: Two-Fifths of U.S. Adults Care
for Sick, Elderly Relatives," June 20, 2013;http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/20/caregivers-adults-care-for-elderly-relatives-sandwich-generation_n_3469779.html.
3 Genworth Financial, "2014 Cost of Care Survey," March 25, 2014;https://www.genworth.com/dam/Americas/US/PDFs/Consumer/corporate/
130568_032514_CostofCare_FINAL_nonsecure.pdf
.
4 IRS.gov, "Retirement Plans FAQs Regarding Required Minimum
Distributions," April 24, 2014; http://www.irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/Retirement-Plans-FAQs-regarding-Required-Minimum-Distributions#8.

Five hearing tech announcements that could benefit older adultsPosted: 12 Sep 2016 07:20 AM PDTHearing technology advances -- the hearing aid industry considers changing. It’s a positive when you see disruption of industries that have too tight a lock on the consumer, whether it is in categories of health insurancetelecom carriers or hearing aids.  You spend time with people everywhere you go – those with significant hearing loss but no hearing aids; they have hearing aids, but hate to wear them.  According to a recent NY Times article, two-thirds of adults over 70, but only 15-30% of those wear them – and at $5000 a pair, no wonder. In recent years, personal sound amplification products(PSAPs) that are not classified as hearing aids and thus do not require the audiologist role, though the FDA may change that. Just asking, if the device is called a 'Wearable,' does Silicon Valley find it more worthy of funding?  But anyway. In July, Consumer Reports published an explanatory guide that should be required reading for organizations that serve older adults. It would seem to be the wild west of innovation.  Here is a sampling of five recent product announcements:ReSound. The firm "introduced a new model to the award-winning ReSound LiNX2™ family: the world's only mini behind-the-ear (BTE) model to feature Made for iPhone. In addition, the mini BTE also features telecoil capabilities. ReSound LiNX2 is the world’s first internet-connected hearing aid, connecting to the internet to locate misplaced hearing aids. This new model enhances the award-winning ReSound Smart Hearing portfolio, giving users even more choices to meet individual preferences and hearing loss needs." Learn more at Resound.Oticon. 

"Technological limitations of current hearing aids have led to the use of tunnel directionality: Speech coming from the front is clear, whereas the rest of the sound environment is suppressed. This results in a limited, narrowed and artificial listening experience. With new, groundbreaking technology, Oticon Opn™ is fast and precise enough to analyse and follow the soundscape and differentiate between sounds. Even in complex listening environments, this allows Oticon Opn™ to constantly open up and balance individual sounds to deliver a rich and meaningful soundscape, empowering the brain to choose on which sounds to focus." Learn more at Oticon.
Eargo. 

Silicon Valley based startup that "offers an entry-level rechargeable hearing aid (FDA class I medical device) that it sells directly to consumers. Eargo is a near-invisible in-the-canal device offering four volume settings. Developed by a French ENT, it features patented silicone “flexi-fibers” that enable the device to sit comfortably deep in the ear canal while letting air and natural sound flow freely to the eardrum. At $1,980 per pair, the Eargo hearing aids are more expensive than many of the new off-the shelf “hearables” (classified as personal sound amplification products, or PSAPs, by the FDA), but less expensive than the higher end hearing aids fitted by audiologists." Learn more at HearingTracker.com.

Cochlear.
 "Cochlear Limited (ASX: COH), the global leader in implantable hearing solutions, announces today it has received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for its newest innovative hearing loss solution, Kanso. The Kanso Sound Processor provides a distinct new way for cochlear implant users to hear. Unlike most hearing aids and current cochlear implant sound processors that are worn on the ear, Kanso is a small, off-the-ear hearing device  that provides a more discreet hearing solution and delivers the same hearing experience as a behind-the-ear sound processor." Learn more at Cochlear.

iHearMedical.
 "iHear® Medical announced today the launch of the world’s first online hearing solutions platform. The company begins taking orders today for its flagship invisible iHEARHD® hearing aid, and the iHearTest™, which recently received landmark FDA approval as the first and only home hearing screener. Delivery of iHear products starts July 15, 2016. The company also plans to launch the iHEARMAX™, a mini behind-the-ear hearing device, on August 15, 2016. iHear’s products are currently being offered in the U.S., with plans to introduce them in China and other markets in 2017." Learn more at iHearMedical.