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Long-Term Care Advice for Caregivers

When a loved one needs long-term care, there's a serious emotional cost for family members -- in addition to the significant dollar cost. This topic was the subject of a round-table discussion I participated in a few weeks ago, hosted by Ken Dychtwald, a prominent researcher and gerontologist, and Genworth Financial.

The panelists were financial journalists who not only write about long-term care issues from a financial perspective but who've also been there personally when it's been time to take care of family members. The group included Jane Gross, who writes The New Old Age blog for The New York Times, Bob Powell, editor of Retirement Weekly, Lauren Young, a personal finance editor at Thompson-Reuters, and me, representing CBS MoneyWatch.

Ken Dychtwald asked all of us these questions: Given what you know now, having lived through a long-term care event, what advice would you have for others? What would you do differently? Here are a few highlights of the answers:

  • Appreciate that various family members and friends have different strengths and skills they can bring to help.
  • Keep in mind that the primary goal is to serve the family member in need. Check your own emotional baggage at the door -- which can be difficult if there are unresolved issues among siblings.
  • Take care of the caretakers, who are often under significant stress themselves.
  • Plan ahead to avoid operating in crisis mode, when you're less effective.
The stories are compelling and insightful, and I encourage you to watch this brief, three-minute video of our answers.

For additional, helpful insights into the impact a long-term care event can have on family members, I encourage you to look at the results of Genworth's survey report titled Beyond Dollars: The True Impact of Long-Term Caring. It offers statistics on the impact of a long-term care event on family and friends, as well as the compelling stories, thoughts, and perspectives of the primary and secondary caregivers who participated in the survey.

I hope this video clip and survey findings motivate you to plan now for the possibility that you might need long-term care at some point in your life. This planning should include how to pay for long-term care and how to mitigate the impact on your family. It's one of the most important action items that should be on your retirement planning list.

Image from iStockphoto contributor Masza5
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