By Sharon Sebastian:
The country is in the midst of an “epidemic of dementia.” It rocks the foundations of families. Few perceive its prevalence because it begins on a micro level — family to family. Without an effective means to connect shared experiences, families are unable to advocate and influence critical changes at both the state and national level. Some in the media write about dementia being widespread. Few detail its far-reaching, financial impact. Economists track the instability of the macro-economy while woefully unaware of the shadow economic crisis that is deepening from town-to-town and state-to-state across America.
A tsunami of health care debt is welling to a point where it will undermine the national economy. Families are already caught in the undertow. Forbes Contributor, Todd Hixon, warns: “If the trends of the last 20 years continue, health care spending will eat up U.S. GDP in our children’s lifetimes.” It is a serious warning projecting devastating consequences.
It is far more complicated than economic charts reveal. Nationwide, unexpected needs of loved ones suffering from gradual to severe to debilitating memory loss have families emotionally and financially torn. The wealthy have a financial cushion. The poor have a government safety net that financially covers their needs. The middle-class is left adrift to fend for itself.
Anger builds at a government spending large in Washington using American’s tax dollars to become the world’s caretaker while abandoning its own people in need. Can America’s middle-class save itself, its families, and its elderly while being forced to financially support burgeoning groups of global dependents who seek America’s health care and welfare dollars? The answer is “no.” The American worker and their families should be the recipients of the dollars they earn in the time of their need. Only then can a strong America render aid to others on a large scale.
The article “Scamming Alzheimer’s” reveals that, “Many forms of dementia are today claiming more people than at any time in the history of the disease.” Studies show that one form of dementia, Alzheimer’s, alone increased 68% over ten years while, according to the U.S. Census, the elder population only increased by 15.1%.” Increasingly and ever-present, brain diseases are destroying memory and life.
Lost amid high demands for a “cure” for dementia and Alzheimer’s are the hard realities of the high costs for the “care” that is required until a cure is found. It is established fact that most patients with memory related brain diseases require long-term, high-skilled and supervised attention at substantial costs. The first financial casualty is the tax-paying, wage-earner. Slammed the hardest, middle-income workers insist that nobody in Washington understands how tough it is for them and their families as this unexpected health care crisis drains incomes and savings.
Economists warn that so goes the middle-class, so goes the country. The question is: How goes the middle-class in today’s economy as it faces this mounting, financial headwind?
- America’s shrinking middle-class is now “in the minority for the first time ever” according to Pew Research Center.
- The average worker’s wages have remained flat or down for ten years.
- Fewer Americans are working since 1977 while “the percentage of adult Americans actively looking for a job stands at 62.6 percent, the lowest level in nearly four decades.”
- The number of Americans in poverty continues to grow.
- Single female heads of households are significantly poorer and face greater challenges providing aid to an elderly parent or grandparent that is in need of care.
Americans remain on borrowed time with a shrinking workforce that is kowtowed to ever-increasing government spending and decades of waste by this and former administrations. In regard to costs, long-term medical care is the leading cause of bankruptcy for our elderly. Retirement savings may be depleted in months depending on the level of care required. Family inheritances are in jeopardy or may be wiped out entirely.
“Hand-to-mouth nation: Roughly 40 percent of US households live paycheck to paycheck but two thirds of these families are not considered poor by economic definitions.” — My Budget 360
The struggle becomes can adult-children sock a few dollars away for the long-term care of an aging parent, apply it towards their teen’s college fund, or save for their own retirement and potential future illness and care needs. The demand for dollars exceeds supply.
Many Americans do not know that neither Medicare nor Medicaid help foot the bill for skilled, ongoing long-term care except under the most dire of circumstances. Once financially depleted and living at the poverty level, only then can an individual or their family seek government dollars to help pay for continuing long-term care. Stringent Medicaid qualifications require that an individual be legally poor as well as mentally or physically incapacitated.
In the face of long-term care for their loved ones, inflation, mounting taxation, unemployment and underemployment have placed a rising burden of debt on multiple generations. Despite the ballyhoo about wealthy seniors, the reality is, the majority of our elders and their families have small nest eggs, if any, in the way of savings.
Families must be warned and prepared. The rapid increase in dementia and other brain diseases is occurring at a time when middle-income American’s discretionary spending is being tapped out. For growing numbers of families nationwide, long-term health care costs, both inside and outside of the home, are unsustainable:
“On average, nursing home costs would consume 246 percent of the median annual household income of older adults. Home care generally is more affordable than nursing home care, allowing consumers to stretch their dollars further. But at an average of 84 percent of median income, the typical older family cannot sustain these costs for long periods. This finding has profound implications for the entire LTSS system [Long-Term Services and Supports]. States have limited ability to control the costs of care for those who pay privately.” — Raising Expectations, 2014
The cost of long-term, skilled nursing care averages $5000 a month which equals $60,000 a year. The latest data from Social Security reports that 51% of working Americans now make less than $30,000 a year. Bankruptcy looms for households nationwide as economists warn that the American consumer is already on the edge. The NY Federal Reserve’s Consumer Expectations Survey reports that “household income expectations have fallen.” Spending growth expectations have plunged to record lows. Consumers are spent.
Discretionary income that would otherwise go towards purchases in the marketplace, entertainment, travel, charities or into investments is being diverted into the massive care system. Large and small businesses are denied additional consumer dollars that might have otherwise come their way. As a result, a deepening economic crisis is taking root.
Laden on top is the trauma and heartache of coping with life-debilitating brain illnesses that are being linked by scientific research to gross malfeasance by the U.S. government. Science reveals that the “epidemic” of dementia began under the negligent and enabling eye of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Years of government culpability in the loss of Americans’ lives amounts to “depraved indifference” as the FDA practices corporate cronyism with major processed food companies.
Scientific research links laboratory-engineered ingredients and toxins in our processed food supply to a rapid increase in deadly and debilitating brain diseases in our elders as well as memory loss in people of all ages. Research and findings of top scientists are detailed in the book, “AGING: WARNING – Navigating Life’s Medical, Mental & Financial Minefields” and will be expanded upon in Part 2 of this 3-part series.
Alzheimer’s and dementia deaths have been greatly underreported which deceptively underplays the severity of what it to come. The book, “AGING: WARNING” details the crisis, already underway, that is deeply impacting the lives and livelihoods of American families. It also charts a path for change. In addition to providing insight for families on how to cope, the book was written as a critical warning of this growing economic crisis that is rapidly emerging from the shadows. In addition to the financial impact on families, at risk is the moral conscience of this nation.
The bottom line. America must provide care and protection for its own, in particular for those unable to care for themselves. Yet, today, America’s ability to provide for American’s first is threatened by a shrinking tax base and a government that increasingly funds and prioritizes global need. In addition to putting Americans first, members of Congress, legislators and economists must factor this shadow economic crisis into the nation’s current and future planning. Anything less is moral turpitude.
Note: The 3-part series of related articles on a “Shadow Economic Crisis” by Sharon Sebastian is presented after years of research and interviews with top professionals and scientists in various fields.
FDA and the Spread of Brain Diseases: Shadow Economic Crisis – (Part 2) by Sharon Sebastian
The Shame of Substandard Care: Shadow Economic Crisis – (Part 3) by Sharon Sebastian
© Copyright by Sharon Sebastian, 2016. All rights reserved.