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5 ideas for preventing a catastrophic caregiver drought

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Sandra Timmermann — the founder and executive director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute, a think tank that disbanded in 2013 — says insurers, policymakers and others need to think more about expanding the future supply of informal care.

Players in the private long-term care insurance (LTCI) community often talk about the needs of caregivers, but the country as a whole is not paying enough attention to how much informal care older people are likely to need in the coming years, how strained family resources are, and how many people are now expecting to stay in their own homes as they age.

See also: Caregivers lose $3 trillion due to lost work time

The government is now pushing to help aging people stay in their own homes, but “the infrastructure and funding on the community level aren’t there,” Timmermann writes in a paper on caregiving distributed by the Society of Actuaries.

In the paper, Timmermann offers many ideas for supporting caregivers and increasing the supply.

For a sampling of her ideas, read on.

Two parents with one adult son

1. Create benefits aimed directly at the caregivers.

Timmermann says an insurer might be able to offer a caregiver rider along with an LTCI policy.

The policy could provide benefits for the insured’s adult or for another designated caregiver, Timmermann says.

See also: eHealth: Many caregivers spend heavily

Skeptic

2. Create a short-term care (STC) caregiver benefit for people who may be providing informal care for a short period.

Timmermann says a short-term caregiver benefit could be a big help for people who will be providing for a short period, such as during the period before an LTCI policy’s benefits elimination period ends. 

See also: 7 ways to count your clients’ days

Woman looking out window

3. Build access to a set number of geriatric care management hours into an LTCI policy.

Some LTCI policies and LTC benefits hybrids already offer access to some type of caregiver support program, adding richer, more structured benefits might help a caregiver with managing care and making decisions, Timmermann says.

See also:How to put an alliance to work for seniors and your business

Tape measure

4. Add questions about caregiving to employers’ health risk assessment questionnaires, to improve the data available on the impact of caregiving.

If employers and vendors have more information about caregiving, they might have an easier time developing and offering attractive elder care services packages, Timmermann says.

See also: Caregiving and work leave

Clock

5. Create a caregiving time bank.

Timmermann says a caregiving time bank to help people who live far from their loved ones.

If a time bank existed, volunteers in one area could provide light informal care for people outside their own circle and “bank the hours.”

When those volunteers needed light informal care for loved ones in other communities, time bank volunteers in the other communities could provide the care.

The time bank volunteers could help with tasks such as driving and shopping, Timmermann says.

See also: Millions Now Manage Aging Parents’ Care from Afar

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