A recent report compiled by joint efforts of the AARP and the federal government reveal alarming statistics regarding long term care for the disabled. Perhaps the first figure to stand out is the fact nearly 55 million Americans have some level of disability and of those, nearly one-third will require long term care due to their disabilities. And if you think disability is reserved only for the elderly, think again. 22%, or 12 million, of those who are considered legally disabled are under the age of 65. Disabilities strike all racial or ethnic groups and are not partial to any age group, either. The need for solid solutions in long term care has long since been on the governmental backburner. This is no doubt one of the most neglected of societal issues, yet also one of the most critical.
Further, those family members who bear the brunt of the financial obligations of those who are disabled continues to rise, both in the numbers as well as the money that’s applied toward their loved ones’ needs. Consider $375 billion dollars that was contributed in 2007 by family members who provide for their disabled loved ones versus the $97 billion spent by Medicaid, and the reality begins to emerge of just how important this issue is. The nuclear family continues to grow as adult children are bringing Mom and Dad (and in some instances, it’s the parents who are moving their grown children back) into their homes to ensure they are properly cared for and as a means to better afford the needs of their loved ones.
A long term disability is defined as any chronic disease or serious accident that inhibits the ability to work or severely inhibits one’s quality of life. With the vast majority of earmarked Medicare funds going to nursing home facilities or other assisted living facilities and due to the guidelines that many simply don’t qualify for, it’s a “fend for yourself” attitude that seems to rule the day. It’s that uncertainty that causes so many to lose sleep at night, worried about what the next day could bring. The thought process, however, is that there are other expenses, such as mortgage payments and groceries, that must be met first and with the country still attempting to recover from an incredibly difficult recession, most Americans are still not in a position to purchase disability insurance policies. Still, it remains a crucial issue that must be not only addressed, but remedied as well.