Labor of Love: Why Family Caregiving Can Be a “Costly” Option

September 25, 2015 • admin

home caregiver

Caring for the elderly gets expensive fast. In most cities in the United States, you can count on the annual cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home to top $80,000 a year, and a private room is typically upwards of $95,000 annually.

“Aging in place” at home can be a less expensive alternative, but if and when a senior needs assistance, they could be still looking at over $40,000 a year for 44 hours a week of professional home healthcare services. And Medicare may not cover any of these costs unless the person is also receiving skilled medical care or certain therapy services from the healthcare services provider.
It isn’t uncommon for the elderly, particularly those with only moderate retirement savings, to spend their assets on care and eventually file for Medicaid, which may further limit the available options for care.

Before paying for such expensive care many older Americans will look to a family member to serve in the role of caregiver. If this is your strategy, it is important to consider the impact this decision may have on your loved ones, and the potential challenges they may face.


The truth about family caregiving

A rather staggering statistic from the National Alliance for Caregiving: There are more than 66 million family caregivers in the United States (roughly 40 percent of the U.S. adult population). These caregivers help with their loved one’s daily living activities—from eating to bathing and dressing. They also may provide transportation to appointments, run errands, and help with household chores and maintenance.

And most of these family caregivers are unpaid, despite the fact that they often contribute financially to their loved one’s care–purchasing groceries and paying utility bills, for example, or even bringing the senior to live in their home. Adding the responsibility of caring for an elderly loved one on top of juggling a career and the demands of their own family can create a heavy burden on a caregiver–mentally, physically, and financially. In fact, according to a recent study from MetLife, the average unpaid family loses an average loss of approximately $304,000 in lifetime wages and benefits.


An important discussion

If a family member will be stepping in to provide care as you age, it is critical that you have a frank conversation—before you need their help. You should discuss various scenarios and the logistics associated with each potential situation. Here are some specific questions to think about and talk over with your prospective caregiver:

• Where will you live when you are to the point that you need assistance? Will you remain in your own home, or will you plan to move in with your caregiver? Whichever option you decide on, will you be able to live there comfortably if you become less mobile? Think about stairs, and the location of bedrooms and bathrooms, for example.

• What expectations do you have of your caregiver? Are they realistic? Are they fair? Will it be practical for your family member to provide your necessary care on a long-term basis?

• Looking at your savings, pension, and/or Social Security income. Will you have enough money in the long term to cover your day-to-day living and healthcare expenses? Do you own long-term care insurance? If so, what does it cover?

Check out some other questions for you and your prospective caregiver to consider at mainstreet.com.


Planning before you need it

It is vital that you discuss these issues while you are still independent. This advanced planning will help minimize the emotional, physical, and financial stress on you and your loved ones if and when the time comes for their assistance.

>> For more information about family caregivers and the challenges they may face, visit the National Alliance for Caregiving and the Family Caregiver Alliance.

By: Brad C. Breeding, CFP ® President & Co-Founder- My LifeSite : brad@mylifesite.net
Brad is co-founder of My LifeSite (formerly LifeSite Logics), a North Carolina company that develops web-based tools and resources designed to help families make better-informed decisions when considering a continuing care retirement community.

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