The financial aspects of caring for an aging loved one can frequently be a gray area. It can be hard to predict upcoming health-related expenses and estimate how much assistance will be needed. However, the costs of caregiving tend to run high, and the value of family and friend caregiving amounts to about $470 billion each year, according to an AARP Public Policy Institute report.
U.S. News & World Report says, in “7 Myths About Caregiving Costs,” if you’re currently providing care for a senior or plan to do so in the future, sifting through the financial details as early as possible can save time and money in the long term. Let’s look at some common misconceptions concerning the costs of caregiving, as well as the realities to expect.
Your relative will stay at home and not have caregiving expenses. While your aging relative may never move to an assisted living facility, other care-related costs could still arise because many adult children take on the responsibilities for their aging parent gradually. You eventually may need to bring in skilled nursing support or arrange for in-home care. Even if your senior never lives outside of his own home, responsibilities like these define the role of a caregiver, and costs creep up over time.
All home help will be paid for by insurance. You may think that health insurance or Medicare will pay for all of the costs. However, in most instances, you'll need to find other funds for daily help at home. Health insurance and Medicare never pay for custodial care.
It’s easy to figure out how much assistance at home will cost. The precise amount your loved one or family will spend on bringing in home assistance can vary significantly. It really depends on the level of care needed, along with whether a patient has long-term care insurance or any other form of long-term insurance, where they live and if they qualify for Medicaid. The cost can also vary based on the family situation where relatives are available to help on certain days, reducing the amount needed to pay for professional caregiving assistance.
The cost of caregiving is merely financial. If you’re taking hours every week of your days caring for a loved one, you may experience struggles in other areas of your life. This could mean you have little time for other family and friends, sleep or exercise. These can lead to non-financial costs like increased stress, your own health problems and the emotional strain of caring for an aging loved one.
You can’t afford a caregiver, so you're not going to get one. If your aging parent has few financial resources or other family members can’t help pay for professional care, you should look at what other resources may be available.
Caregiving won’t affect your own finances. Sorry, but helping a loved one may entail additional physical demands that can affect your career and your financial status. Caregivers often work less hours, forfeit promotions, change jobs and even leave the workforce.
A discussion about finances can wait until care is warranted. Not so. If your loved one is now in good health and living at home, it can still be a wise idea to plan, so that if a crisis such as an accident occurs, everyone is ready.
Start a financial discussion with your senior with a few simple questions, perhaps asking for guidance for your own retirement to set things in motion.
Reference: U.S. News & World Report (Dec. 12, 2018) “7 Myths About Caregiving Costs”