Caring for an Aging Parent without Going Broke

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Most adult children would like nothing better than to care for their aging parents. After all, these are the people who raised them and worked hard to give them the best lives possible.Most adult children would like nothing better than to care for their aging parents. After all, these are the people who raised them and worked hard to give them the best lives possible.

The reality is, however, that many adult children are understandably concerned about taking on the financial responsibility that comes with caring for their parents. Medicare generally doesn’t cover long-term stays in a nursing home and even if a family has Medigap, private health insurance won’t cover many expenses.

In the United States, the cost of a private nursing home room averages about $92,000 a year. A semi-private room will run about $82,000 a year and the cost of an assisted living facility is around $3,600 a month.

Even if a parent is able to say in their own home or live with a child, the costs still add up. Expenses include everything from insurance co-pays to medical equipment to prescription medications. If in-home nursing care is required it can cost anywhere from $19 to $90 an hour depending on the level of care required.When it comes to caring for an aging family member, each family must decide what works best for them. The costs also will vary widely depending on the family’s particular circumstances, including the level of care necessary and what provider they choose.
It is important to remember that the most expensive care providers are not always the best. Instead, a quality, experienced care provider will offer exceptional care without charging exorbitant fees. Likewise, you should never choose a care provider based on price alone.

At a time when adult children are struggling to take care of their own families, caring for an aging parent can take its toll on their careers. Today, almost one in four baby boomers is caring for an aging parent and two out of three of these caregivers are women. When these caregivers quit their jobs to take care of their parents, they can expect to forfeit $350,000 in lost wages and social security benefits. Statistics show that more than 40 percent of adults had to take time off of work in order to care for a parent and 25 percent of adult caregivers were forced to quit their job to care for their parent or were fired.There are very few people who have the luxury of quitting their job to stay home to take care of an elderly parent. Therefore, in almost all cases it is in everyone’s best interest that a caregiver not quit their job. Doing so means putting a caregiver, their family and their elderly parent at risk.

If you want to be able to take care of your parents as they grow older, it is important to have a plan. Unfortunately, many families are not always well informed about the cost of long term care so they fail to budget for it. There also is a sense of denial because it is difficult to imagine a time when your parents will be unable to care for themselves so families avoid talking about it until they are in desperate need of help.To prevent being blindsided by a crisis that can lead to hasty decisions that you may later regret, here are some steps to take now:

  1. Talk to your parents to see where they stand financially and emotionally. Do they want to stay at home as long as possible? Maybe they would prefer moving to an assisted living facility or moving in with another family member.
  2. Find out if your loved one has any long term care insurance. While some families consider purchasing this type of insurance after an elderly loved one has an accident or needs nursing care, it usually doesn’t make financial sense at this point.
  3. Create a financial plan that includes all sources of income that would be available should outside care become necessary. This includes the parents’ funds, the amount you would be able to contribute and contributions from other family members.
  4. If your loved one lives in a different city or state, consider moving them closer so it will be easier for you to manage their care.
  5. Anticipate unexpected expenses and work to save in advance for those expenses.
  6. Get a firm grasp in advance on what your financial limits are so you don’t put your financial future at risk.

Caring for an aging parent is challenging emotionally, financially and physically, but it is important to remember that there also are countless benefits. Ask most sons and daughters who are caring for their older parents and you are sure to hear about how much this time with their parents has meant to them. They also are likely to appreciate being able to give back to those who have done so much for them.