Whether you sell long-term care (LTC) planning services, life insurance, annuities or aluminum siding, many of your clients are already acting as caregivers for older loved ones.
You may be able to improve the lives of some of those clients by simply letting them know that respite care services exist.
About 7.5 million Americans care for loved ones over the age of 49 for an average of 41 or more hours per week, according to AARP and the National Alliance Caregiving (NAC).
When Public Policy Polling surveyed informal Alzheimer’s caregivers in 2012, it found that 25 percent were providing round-the-clock care.
Informal caregivers may give up interesting paid work, a chance to earn retirement plan matching contributions, and even a chance to build up Social Security benefits. But one of the most crushing burdens they face may be a lack of breaks.
Workers in paid jobs outside the home usually get vacation days, sick days, days off for holidays, and days off for jury duty. Informal caregivers often work under exhausting, emotionally draining conditions without even knowing that respite care — temporary care for frail or disabled adults, provided either in the home or in a facility — exists.
If you specialize in LTC planning, helping clients budget for respite care services for their own likely informal caregivers is a no-brainer. You may find that, as the size of America’s “oldest old” population increases, respite care planning and scheduling services will become a major business opportunity.
Even if you sell something entirely different, knowing a little about respite care may give you a chance to strengthen relationships with clients and prospects by providing valuable advice.
See also: 5 must-know adult day care shopping tips
For five basic things for insurance professionals to know about respite care services, read on.
1. The best respite care should give the caregiver a real break.
Alicia Blater, director of the Lifespan Respite Project at the North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services, recently gave a presentation on project findings during a webinar organized by three aging-related federal agencies.
She noted that 46 percent of caregivers have reported feeling a low level of satisfaction with the free time they have while using respite care. Some researchers found that caregivers who use their respite time to do what they planned seemed to feel better.
North Carolina respite project managers tried to use that information to improve caregivers’ satisfaction with respite care, by having them talk to the respite care providers about how they wanted to use their respite time.
Simply talking to the providers about respite time goals dramatically improved the caregivers’ satisfaction with their respite time, Blater said.
Blater said flexible respite programs may also increase respite programs’ value.
In some cases, she said, respite programs may schedule respite program slots based on when workers happen to be in the a caregiver’s area, not when the caregiver actually wants free time, Blater said, according to a transcript of her remarks.
“That type of scheduling removes the caregiver from being the true client sometimes and doesn’t set up the best beginning for successful respite use,” Blater said.