Caregiving Spouses Often Don’t Seek Help

There are more than 42 million unpaid family caregivers in the United States, including spouses, adult children, and others. A recent report, issued by the United Hospital Fund and the AARP Public Policy Institute, focuses on spousal caregivers. The report reveals how spousal caregivers desire to take care of ALL of a spouse’s needs, and are less likely to seek help when it comes to medical tasks such as wound care, medication management, and more.

Report findings include:

  • 84% of spousal care recipients receive no in-home support from health care professionals, compared with 65% of non-spousal care recipients.
  • 58% of the spouses reported no additional help from family, friends, or home care aides, compared with 20% of non-spouses.
  • Spouses who are caregivers are on average a decade older than non-spousal caregivers (median age 64 vs. 54.)
  • Additional research needs to be done to help tailor interventions that support but do not supplant the primary bond between spouses.

The report says it is unclear why spouses receive less help, hypothesizing that it could be choice, lack of awareness about resources, financial limitations, or fear of losing independence.
“As a former spousal caregiver, I certainly understand the desire to take care of all of a spouse’s needs,” said coauthor Carol Levine, director of the Families and Health Care Project for the United Hospital Fund. “But the care that is needed and the responsibilities thrust upon family caregivers by our health care system — typically, without adequate support — are more than any family caregiver, particularly an older spouse, can handle alone.”
If you are a spousal caregiver, please read some of our recent blog posts that focus on caregiver support and alleviating stress, including New Support for Caregivers of Veterans, Meeting the Needs of Dementia Patients and their Caregivers, and more (use the search function on this blog or click on the topic “caregiving” on the lower right.)
What happens when your loved one needs more help than you can provide? Nursing homes in Northern Virginia cost $9,000 – $12,000 per month (a few thousand less in the Fredericksburg, Virginia area), which can be catastrophic even for wealthy families. By being proactive and helping your loves ones plan for long term care in advance, you can help make sure your loved ones always receive the care they need without worry or financial struggle. You’ll further avoid many costly legal headaches that often result when people are not prepared for incapacity or ongoing care needs. It’s never too early to get started. Learn more at The Fairfax and Fredericksburg Medicaid Asset Protection Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. website, or call us at our Virginia Elder Law Fairfax office at 703-691-1888 or at our Virginia Elder Law Fredericksburg office at 540-479-1435 to make an appointment for an introductory consultation.

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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.

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