Posts Tagged ‘National Council on Aging’

New Studies Show Children As Caregivers For Aging Parents

APRIL 7, 1997 VOLUME 4, NUMBER 40

Two recent studies demonstrate that children of the frail elderly spend more time and money on care of their parents than is widely supposed. Despite the popular image of “baby-boomer” children as self-involved and neglectful of their elders’ needs, the research indicates that the amount of effort invested in elder care has actually increased over the past decade.

In 1987, according to one of the studies (sponsored by the American Association of Retired Persons, the National Alliance for Caregiving and others), seven million families were involved in providing long-term care for parents or other relatives. That number has more than tripled, to 22.4 million.

Fully half of employed caregivers have missed work time to care for their elders in recent years, reflecting an increase from just over two-fifths a decade ago. Another surprise: almost half of long-distance caregivers are male, despite the stereotype of daughters providing all the care for aging parents. The average age of long-distance caregivers: 46–which places the average caregiver solidly in the baby boom generation.

Long-distance caregivers make up a distinct portion of the children providing care for elderly relatives. 70% of those out-of-town care providers are employed, and they provide assistance with everything from bill-paying to hiring and managing on-site caretakers.

The second recent study, commissioned by the National Council on Aging, shows similar results. The NCOA focused its study on caregivers who live at least an hour from their elders. While that study showed that only 15% of caregivers have taken unpaid leave from their jobs to deal with elder care responsibilities, it suggests that out-of-town caretakers provide more than just their time to support aging elders. In fact, the NCOA caretakers had spent an average of $196 per month of their own money to provide or oversee care, and spent 35 hours per month on making the arrangements and visits necessary to keep their elders safe and provided for.

The NCOA study (funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts) also revealed another important detail about long-distance elder care: the length of time such arrangements continue. According to the study, the average long-distance caretaker had been involved in helping out for just over five years.

Both studies demonstrate the reality of caregiving at a time when public policy debates focus on the spiraling costs of long-term care. According to the conventional wisdom, children (and especially baby boomers) are interested primarily in receiving their depression-era parents’ estates as quickly as possible. That is the view that invests policy determinations, from Congress’ recent attempt to make criminals out of parents who give away property before institutionalization to Medicaid’s refusal to provide any substantial home care alternative to nursing home placement.

Even as the American population ages inexorably, the public debate shifts away from reasoned solutions of the growing funding problem associated with long-term care and toward demonizing of the segment of society most likely to require assistance. The long-term care insurance industry, eager to develop a market in this growth field (a tiny fraction of long-term care costs is currently paid by insurance, with the majority of funding coming from the federal Medicaid program), has led the charge with a two-fold attack: accusing children of the frail elderly of greed while trying to frighten the elderly themselves with visions of bankrupt government programs and allegedly substandard care. Unfortunately for those who make the first claim, the AARP and NCOA studies clearly demonstrate that the elderly receive tremendous assistance from their children, even across long distances.

Standards for Adult Day Care Centers

JANUARY 10, 1994 VOLUME 1, NUMBER 8

From The Wall Street Journal, January 6, 1994

“An adult day-care boom propels a move to set up a national accrediting system.”

Adult day-care centers have multiplied tenfold since the mid-1980s to an estimated 3,000 nationwide, and the trend is expected to continue as more parents of employed baby boomers reach ages at which they need daytime care. Many employers have begun providing referrals to adult day care and other services to aid the estimated 20% of workers who care for aging relatives

But only about half the states regulate adult day-care centers, and quality is uneven. Facilities range from high-quality centers offering health care and educational, exercise, cultural and social programs, to warehouses where aged and emotionally ill people are thrown together to spend most of their days watching television.

Now, the National Council on Aging, with partial funding from American Telephone and Telegraph and two of its unions, has begun setting up an accreditation program to encourage centers to upgrade quality and help consumers find high-quality care.

The council is training aides at adult day-care centers in five states and urging state organizations of center directors to embrace uniform quality standards, says Donna L. Wagner, the council’s vice president, programs. By 1996, the National Institute on Adult Day Care, a council unit, plans to endorse centers based on quality of programs and staff.”

Guardianship and Divorce

It occasionally happens that an incapacitated person needs to be divorced from his or her spouse. This may be because the spouse is abusive, because benefits have been reduced or because the spouse refuses to cooperate in applying for benefits, for instance. Until recently, it was not clear what steps could be taken to secure a divorce in such cases.

In the recent case of Ruvalcaba v. Ruvalcaba (174 Arizona 436, 1993), the Arizona Court of Appeals addressed this question. Mrs. Ruvalcaba’s mother became her guardian after she suffered a serious head injury and entered a coma. Mrs. Ruvalcaba ultimately recovered from her coma, but continued to suffer from amnesia and remained unable to make her own medical decisions or living arrangements.

Mrs. Ruvalcaba’s mother, fearing that her daughter’s husband would become abusive, determined that it would be in her ward’s best interest to pursue a divorce. She initiated the proceedings on her daughter’s behalf. Her daughter’s husband objected, alleging that the power to start a divorce is too personal to be delegated to a guardian. The Court of Appeals disagreed, and held that a guardian may pursue a divorce on her ward’s behalf. The Court cited Rasmussen v. Fleming, the Arizona “right-to-die” case, to show that very personal rights may be exercised by a guardian.

The guardian also sought custody of the couple’s minor children for her incapacitated daughter. The Court permitted this, indicating that the best interests of the children might be served by leaving them with their mother (and grandmother)!

©2017 Fleming & Curti, PLC