Did you know November is Caregivers Appreciation Month? As your parents get older, you may want to start thinking about the cost of caregiving. Maybe you’re planning on having your parents move in with you. Alternatively, maybe you’re looking into nursing home options. As a non profit credit counseling agency, ACCC is here to explain the cost of caregiving and elder care.
When to get involved with elderly parents’ health:
Ideally, you should have the conversation with your parents about how they want to handle their finances and healthcare as they age before they need full-time care. These conversations can be difficult, and you don’t want to come across as controlling or intrusive. However, the cost of caregiving can be very expensive, so you need to have a plan in place.
You also should keep an eye out for signs that your parents or other elderly relatives may not be able to care for themselves. These signs include:
- Sudden weight loss
- Failure to take medication
- Burns or injuries
- Deterioration of personal hygiene and habits
- Car accidents
- Extreme paranoia or suspiciousness
- Consistent disorientation
If they exhibit any of these symptoms, you may have to start thinking about lifestyle changes for them.
The Cost of Caregiving: Your Options
If you don’t have the time to take care of your elderly relatives full-time by yourself, a nursing home might be the best option. Keep in mind, they are the more expensive option. The average cost of a private room in a nursing home in the U.S. is $8,365 per month. A semi-private room costs $7,441 per month. This can vary from state to state, so you should do some research on your own as well. While Medicare can cover a portion of nursing home care costs, it does not cover all of it. Plan accordingly to avoid debt.
Doing it yourself
A 2019 study by AARP found that an unpaid family caregiver can expect to spend nearly 20 percent of their income on out-of-pocket costs related to helping their loved one. These out-of-pocket costs include household expenses, medical needs, personal care expenses, legal fees, etc.
According to Care.com, one in five family caregivers have dipped into their own savings to pay for their elderly loved one’s expenses. Additionally, 34% of all family caregivers spend 11 hours a week on caregiving, 20% spend more than 20 hours per week, and 11% spend 30 hours or more per week. Caregiving can be demanding and take as much time as a full-time job!
How to Cover the Cost of Caregiving
The cost of healthcare after retirement isn’t something many people think about when they save for retirement. Many Americans over 65 are not financially equipped to deal with these costs. Whether you’re caring for your relatives yourself or utilizing a nursing home, caregiving isn’t cheap.
If you know you will have to take on the role of caregiver for your elderly parents in the next few years, you should start financially preparing now. Start putting some money aside that you can use for caregiver costs down the road so it won’t be so overwhelming all at once. Do some research on Medicare, Medicaid, and your state’s health care programs to see what financial assistance you’re eligible for. You also may qualify for a dependent tax care credit if your elderly parent counts as your dependent. Ask a tax professional for more information.
If you’re struggling to pay off debt or have questions about your finances, ACCC can help. Sign up for a free credit counseling session today.