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MassMutual and Easter Seals Study Finds Many Face Unforeseen Costs and Unmet Expectations
SPRINGFIELD, Mass., Feb. 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- When thinking about special needs caregivers, a parent, spouse or adult child typically comes to mind. Yet, the role that siblings play as caregivers is critical but often overlooked. Nearly a quarter of adults with disabled siblings serve as their primary care providers-a role 31 percent plan to fill in the future. And while many siblings already support brothers and sisters with special needs, future primary caregivers may face unrealistic expectations in terms of the time caregiving will take, and the support they will receive.
These are among the key findings of the Siblings Study, released today by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) and Easter Seals. The survey explores the experiences of sibling caregivers as well as the services and supports their families need.
"There is an undeniable bond between siblings which can be especially close when one has special needs, but along with this relationship comes a unique set of circumstances and a great deal of responsibility," says Joanne Gruszkos, founder and director of the SpecialCareSM Program, MassMutual. "For sibling caregivers, it's critical to not only set realistic expectations, but also prepare financially, emotionally and physically."
"At MassMutual we understand that caring for siblings with special needs can be daunting, but resources exist for those who seek them out," says Gruszkos. "Since 2004, our SpecialCare Program has helped the families of the over five million children with special needs care for their loved ones."
When the time is right, a few key considerations for caregivers include:
-- Pick your Team
First and foremost, sibling caregivers need to find experienced professionals to help ensure informed health, educational, legal and financial choices are made. Building a team of experienced experts who can work together-often a lawyer, financial professional and healthcare professional-is critical. For this reason, caregivers should seek out those professionals with experience in working with special needs families.
-- Plan for the Future
The stakes in planning are high. Care should be taken when making financial, educational and healthcare decisions so as not to disqualify siblings with special needs from state and federal programs. Consulting a team of experienced professionals can help you make informed decisions.
-- Put Protections in Place
If you are a primary caregiver of a sibling, it's important to prepare a will and letter of intent-the latter provides information about your sibling's routines, medical issues, and preferences for living situations. Another consideration for caregivers is life and disability income insurance to ensure that your own needs are being met, and you can continue to provide for your sibling, even if disabled or deceased. Together, they ensure that care can be carried on for your sibling with a disability, should the worst come to pass.
Ipsos conducted two polls on behalf of Easter Seals and the study's sponsor, MassMutual:
About MassMutual's SpecialCare Program
The SpecialCare Program, developed exclusively by MassMutual, is an innovative outreach initiative that provides access to information, specialists, and financial products and services that can help improve the quality of life for people with disabilities and other special needs and their families and caregivers.
Founded in 1851, MassMutual is a leading mutual life insurance company that is run for the benefit of its members and participating policyowners. The company has a long history of financial strength and strong performance, and although dividends are not guaranteed, MassMutual has paid dividends to eligible participating policyholders consistently since the 1860s. With whole life insurance as its foundation, MassMutual provides products to help meet the financial needs of clients, such as life insurance, disability income insurance, long term care insurance, retirement/401(k) plan services, and annuities. In addition, the company's strong and growing network of financial professionals helps clients make good financial decisions for the long-term.
MassMutual Financial Group is a marketing name for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) and its affiliated companies and sales representatives. MassMutual is headquartered in Springfield, Massachusetts and its major affiliates include: Babson Capital Management LLC; Baring Asset Management Limited; Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers LLC; The First Mercantile Trust Company; MassMutual International LLC; MML Investors Services, LLC, Member FINRA and SIPC; OppenheimerFunds, Inc.; and The MassMutual Trust Company, FSB.
About Easter Seals
Easter Seals is the leading non-profit provider of services for individuals with autism, developmental disabilities, physical disabilities and other special needs. For more than 90 years, they have been offering help and hope to children and adults living with disabilities, and to the families who love them. Through therapy, training, education and support services, Easter Seals creates life-changing solutions so that people with disabilities can live, learn, work and play. Visit www.easterseals.com.
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