10/14/2011 6:24 PM ET|
The high cost of caring for parents
Here are some things to consider when those responsibilities loom:
Assess your parents' resources
It may not be easy to get your parents to open up about their savings and investments. Parents might be embarrassed about their financial situation, or they may be defensive or paranoid about ceding control, particularly if they're suffering the beginning stages of dementia, Roberts noted. But getting a clearer idea of their resources can help you figure out whether you can afford help, and how much.
If your parents have equity in their home, a reverse mortgage can help them pay for care without having to move into a facility. (Read "A deal that could save your parents" for more.)
Create a team
The caregiving load can quickly become too big to carry by yourself. Enlist siblings, other family members or friends if you can, or paid help if you can afford it. Eventually all four of Lazarony's siblings played key roles in taking care of their mother, now 80, and their father, 79, who was diagnosed two years ago with vascular dementia.
When it became clear the family needed to hire a daytime caregiver, they opted to chip in to pay Lazarony sisters to do the work -- with the bulk of the funds donated by two brothers who lived farthest away, in California. A brother who lived close by pitched in on weekend evenings and all day Sunday so Lazarony and her sister could have a day off each week.
"My father used to joke, 'I'm just glad we had so many kids,'" Lazarony said.
Whether you have a lot of help or a little, one professional who can be well worth hiring is a geriatric care manager, who can assess your parents' situation, help you anticipate what might be next and connect you to resources in the community. You can get referrals from the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers.
Learn about Medicare and Medicaid
While Medicare provides health insurance for people 65 and over, it doesn't cover everything. Caregivers may need to account for premiums, deductibles and services that aren't covered when budgeting their parents' money, and their own.
If your parents are poor enough to qualify for Medicaid, see if your state provides payments to family members who care for their parents. The programs don't pay much and aren't available in all states, but every little bit can help.
Explore all available benefits
Your community may offer a number of services for the elderly, from meals to day care, that can make caregiving easier. Start your search at the Eldercare Locator website. Another site, BenefitsCheckUp, can help you find programs that may help pay for prescription drugs, rent, utilities, meals and other needs. If money is tight, ask service providers if discounts or other financial help is available. Lazarony's family was paying $55 a day for a day care center when Lazarony discovered they were eligible for a scholarship that reduced the cost as a respite for caregivers. The scholarship reduced the bill to less than $90 a month.
Think twice about quitting your job
Trying to juggle caregiving and a job can be difficult and stressful. Before you quit your job, though, see if you might have other options that would allow you to continue earning wages and contributing to your retirement funds. Some companies offer flextime or the opportunity to share a job with another part-time worker. You also may qualify for up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act. (Read about leave benefits here.)
Take care of yourself
If you're a caregiver, try to make sure you get enough rest, exercise, healthful food, time off and appropriate health care screenings. Support groups can help you deal with the stress of caregiving and inform you about resources you might not otherwise hear about.
Taking good care of yourself applies to your finances, too. Boost your retirement savings if you possibly can to insulate yourself against end-of-life expenses, and consider long-term-care insurance. Caregiving is an act of love for your parents; taking care of your finances is an act of love for yourself -- and your kids.
Liz Weston is the Web's most-read personal-finance writer. She is the author of several books, most recently "The 10 Commandments of Money: Survive and Thrive in the New Economy" (find it on Bing). Weston's award-winning columns appear every Monday and Thursday, exclusively on MSN Money. Join the conversation and send in your financial questions on Liz Weston's Facebook fan page.
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I have news for people facing "old age", and their children: Unless you have a LOT of money, and have it well protected (as well as you can).... if you live long enough, and need care, all of your money will go, as well as your home. It is a disgrace in this country: particularly Pennsylvania.... what they do to people. First of all, it you have a pre existing condition, you cannot even buy a "better" policy..... or any policy. Second there is a five year "lookback" period" where you cannot transfer any of your funds, savings, or home title, because that money belongs to the nursing home or the state --- you will have to "spend down" to less than $8K total, and if your home is not in someone's name other than the person who needs care, it's gone to the "estate recovery" gestapo... so, you can give it up before you die, or what until after you die for them to come in and "take it". However, if you move the house out of the elder's name before the 5 year "lookback",, they can't "take it". There are always those who fall in the cracks and don't get these maneuvers done in time to save their family home... Doesn't matter if you've never asked for a penny of help from the government before, or if your family has owned that home for 60 or more years.... The govmt takes it...and all your money.
I am one of those "children" who gave up a lot to care for my mother. She lived alone in her home after my dad died, and became old and disabled and unable to take care of things. I worked part time for 9 years so I could attend to her and all the needs before I went into work (night work), while I kept my own home too.. I could have used those years to work full time and get myself a nice pension for my future. Now, I am paying the price. The only saving grace for me is I did not abandon my mother and took very seriously my role of protecting her and supporting her best interests. If I wasn't there for her, I don't know what would have happened. I am sure she would have died years before her death at age 94. I wasn't so lucky to have 4 or 5 siblings. I had only one, and she lived 400 miles away. Except for 3 or 4 trips per year of 10 days to 2 weeks each by my sister to stay with my mom, I was "it" for the rest of the year and years. I handled everything from soup to nuts for ten years. It is a nasty situation: the healthcare and insurance situation for people, and for elders in this country. In fact, it is a nasty situation for ALL people who do not have a "slam dunk" good job with all good benefits. Those born with a silver spoon in their mouth need not worry.. accountants and lawyers know how to shield their assets long before they could begin to lose big. The environment in this country re healthcare and longterm care is coming to a boiling point before people realize how vulnerable they really are, and how complicated it is. They don't CARE about elders.... it's all talk. They care about insurance companies and bank and big profit. The banks and insurance companies are out of control.. and the average joe and jane doe are in trouble. It's getting nastier by the day in this country. (and don't blame it on Obama, although he SHOULD HAVE fought harder for healthcare --- and took the gloves off!!.).
Being a caregiver if you are an only child, or only one "in town", and from a small family is like being in combat in a war and you don't come home unscathed either.
It's troubling to me to see these types of articles.
Seems like everything in life is a money/cost discussion with a moral decision.
Some things you just do because it's what a compasionate human being does.
I hate that we are all squeezed for money and have to worry about being able to keep someone comfortable.
Hey insurance execs do you really think any of you is worth the milions they pay you?
Insurance should be a non profit issue and available to all.
Peoples heath comes first, not making one insurance exec wealthy.
I TOOK CARE OF MY AGING MOTHER FOR 26 YEARS AND YES, IT DID COST US A LOT....IN TIME AND MONEY. i HAD VERY LITTLE HELP BUT MANAGED. IT TOOK A LOT OF TIME AWAY FROM OUR KIDS AND MY SPOUSE. I OFTEN FELT LIKE I WAS JUST "PUTTING OUT FIRES". I HAD TO DEAL WITH WHATEVER PROBLEM WAS THE MOST URGENT AT THE MOMENT AND THE ONE'S DEEMED LESS URGENT RESENTED THE LACK OF ATTENTION TO THEIR ISSUES. I WAS IN A GREAT DEAL OF STRESS FOR A LONG, LONG TIME. IT TOOK A TOLL ON MY HEALTH, MY EMOTIONAL/MENTAL HEALTH, MY KIDS AND MY SPOUSE. WOULD I DO IT AGAIN? YOU BETCHA. MY MOTHER TOOK CARE OF ME AND MY SIBLINGS AND GAVE US EVERYTHING SHE HAD. WE HAD FEW MATERIAL POSSESSIONS BUT SHE WAS ALWAYS THERE FOR US. SHE WAS NOT A RESPONSIBILITY....SHE WAS MY MOTHER AND I LOVED HER. I HOPE IT GAVE MY CHILDREN A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE ABOUT OUR LOVED ONES AND OUR RELATIONSHIP TO MANKIND IN GENERAL. AM I MY BROTHER'S KEEPER? CERTAINLY.
It is a shame. And you know what almost always happens? The kids that caused their parents the most grief and cost them the most $ are the kids that usually won't or can't help the parents.
Pure selfishness and entrenched with the entitlement mentality.
The solution? Do everything you can personally to have your own financial house in order so your are NOT a burden to your own kids. That also includes taking care of your body so you are less susceptible to disease and health problems before your time.
The next time someone complains to me about the petty issues of their lives, I will tell them that they should only know my mother's horrible daily routine.
Yes, her illnesses cost me a lot of money for attendants, taxis, doctor visits outside of the care facility, and much more... plus, I have two sisters - one tries to help, but the other tells me this is outside her comfort zone while she and her husband are planning faraway trips.
I have not had a vacation in 10 years. Sometimes I want to just run away, but I will not because this is the woman who took responsibility for her children and raised us without our father, a good man, who passed away when I was only 7 years old.
For those who were lucky enough to have parents who cared -- the seniors of today -- I mean those who are 75+, those are the people who had spirit, and did not feel "entitled" -- they need help.
The government needs to recognize these elderly ill people and their children who are trying to provide care and also pay for caregivers. I am very tired and stressed. I cannot believe how many people are on line in the grocery stores with these things called "EBT" cards -- no cash. Yet they drive really nice cars. They are young and appear to be physically able to work.
Give the money to the seniors -- stop giving what the seniors earned to a generation of people who think they are "entitled". The elderly are the entitled.
P.S. Make a will, do a lot of planning for old age, just in case you make it.
1. People are living longer
2. More women are working
Women have always cared for elderly parents and in-laws. Even now, it is almost always the woman who leaves her career to care for the elderly parents, who are likely to survive to age 90 or more.
Do you want you child helping with personal hygiene? Giving you a shower/bath? Cleaning you up after toileting accidents?
Do you know the health problems that caring for children and a parent can take on your son/daughter?
Many companies offer this type of insurance policy. Look into it. You can google it to find many companies. I work for Banker's Life, a company that has been meeting the needs of seniors since 1879. Check out www.bankers.com.
My late wife contracted a long term dibilitating disease that eventually took her life. I had to quit my job early (age 62) and sacrifice a large portion of my own Social Security because the cost of her care was more than I was earning on my job I also found myself constantly being called upon to help my parents with this and that as they aged and their health declined until finally I sold my home and built one next to theirs so I would not have to make the 80 mile round trip commute to their home. As time passed I finally became the sole care giver for them as well as my wife.
After two years my wife passed followed a year later by my father. Now I continue to care for my mother who has dementia and possibly the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. My parent's savings have long been depleted in paying for their care and upkeep and I have borrowed to the max on my own home to help them but those funds are gone as well. I finally had to sell their home and most of their belongings and move my mother in with me in order to continue her care. I estimate that I can hold out perhaps another two years before I finally have to give up and resort to Medicaid and the real possibility of a nursing home. They had asked me to promise to do all that I could to prevent them having to go to such a care facility which is why I have gone to the extremes that I have in their behalf. However once all the money is gone I will have no other choice.
This is very disheartening for me but after being a full time care giver for three people for almost 10 years I am exhausted and nearly bankrupt. I had tried for years to talk to my parents about some sort of 'estate planning' but they were convinced that they had put away enough money to get them through their lives. What they failed to understand is that they were still living with a 1960s mindset. Care costs are easily 10 to 15 times what they were back then. I strongly advise anyone who is approaching their latter years to consider some sort of long term care coverage as part of an estate plan so as to minimize the burden on their children.
Unfortunately I, like my parents, have procrastinated on this issue for too long and the cost of such long term care insurance is prohibitive. So I am considering another approach. I have discovered that I can buy citizenship in another country that has cradle to grave care for their citizens and at no cost to them out of pocket. Also the cost of living is about one fifth that of living here in the U.S. and the climate is warm and hospitable year round. My pension and Social Security payments more than cover my medical needs plus pays for a full time live in care giver for me if needed. This eliminates me becoming a burden on my two sons, gives them a great place to come and visit dad in paradise, and prevents me winding up in some drab nursing home being supported by the local tax payers by having to draw on Medicaid.
Sounds like 1% is doing fine. I have been caring for my wife for 3 yrs. My stepson will not even call to check on his mom, it is too stressful for him to see her like this. His name is Patchen Preston and lives in Austin Texas, he is worthless.
I am lucky to have longterm care insurance that helps pay for in home care 5 hours a day 7 days a week. It still is not enough help. The system is broken for 99% who find themself dealing with this crisis. You loose everything, your loved one, your saving,your life takes a detour.
@old man 76
I respect that. I have a dear friend that adopted 2 nephews, despite both he and his wife being over age 50. But, kids also were there lives. Those 2 made it a total of 7 kids. Wow. Not me. At least not that old. The wife and I had 2 kids and adopted a 3rd in our mid 30's, The adopted child is almost out of High School and then to college. We'll almost be done. No way I'm raising a grandchild.
I saw how it ruined FIL & MIL's life plans because the word "NO" did not exist in their vocabulary, at least where it concerned their smooching daughter. Her 3 kids would have been better off being adopted by younger people anyway. All 3 grandkids turned into trainwrecks themselves.
The reason it's a touchy issue for me is because my oldest daughter has 3 young boys, all because of her foolish choices, out-of-wedlock. Despite providing her a loving home with opportunites I could only dream of as a kid myself, she rebelled and hooked up with a human piece of trash, having 3 illegetimate children with him. Then he left her when the 3rd was 2 months old. Are we learning anything yet? Who does she call for help then? Me. I helped her for 5 months in every way you could imagine including paying her living expenses because deadbeat sperm donor won't. After that, it was over. Done.
Anyway, no way are they living with me. She messed up her life, she's 28 year's old, she's dealing with it.
I have plans for my wife and other peoples foolishness will NOT get in the way. I've been raising kids for almost 30 years and when my High School Junior is off to college, I'm done.
Besides, I see the writing on the wall with FIL and MIL. We'll have to help in some capacity. I will not allow myself to be one of those sandwich generation people.
If other have that gift or calling, more power to them.
To: infavn: I was not saying NOTHING should be paid by elderly for care. We went through $75K my mother had in bond funds, etc., and it lasted less than the blink of an eye. -- I was writing monthly checks for $16K, $9K, $12K, each month --etc., etc., until it was gone., plus turning over her entire social security money, of course-- This, in addition to the insurance payments they were getting. The room ALONE was $400 day and that was just for the (semi-private) room and meals). They pay the "aides" peanuts, and don't have enough help, yet every year the prices of care goes up and up. . What I was saying is: if people know ahead of time, and "in time", their parent will be going in nursing home, or needing in home care, they can move the title of their house over to duel names, or children's names. People do it EVERY DAY.... but it's not fair to those who don't know about doing this in time. Why should some people have to turn their house over, while others don't have to? Just because a family visited a lawyer or a title office and put out a couple hundred bucks for the home title transfer? People who have lived in their homes for 60+ years, should not have their homes taken by the Gestapo because they needed medical care in old age. They should at least be able to keep 75% of the value. The home should be sacosanct, particularly when a family lived there for decades, and worked to take care of the home, and pay off the mortgage, etc.AND the family worked hard for a decade to keep their parent OUT of a nursing home; thereby saving the state money. . Primary home should be hands off to the government So much for the "American Dream"...
The young people suffer as well. They've been cheated in all kinds of real estate schemes with the banks.... millions lost their jobs, their homes, and their credit. In today's computer environment, losing their credit is a snakepit they are now in. Do you think it's right people should be one job away from being stripped of medical coverage in this UNITED STATES OF AMERICA? Obviously, if they've lost their jobs, and can't afford their inflated mortgages, etc... they cannot afford the outrageously expensive "Cobra". It's not just old people who are getting screwed out of their homes. Younger people have fallen victim to all kinds of financial nightmares in the environment this system has created.. Do you know how scarey it must be to be sick, or your wife or husband is sick, and can't afford a CT, or MRI, or see various "specialists"? You have to go on welfare to get help... And that means you can't have ANTYING.... otherwise "you don't qualify". And it's humiliating... All over medical coverage!!!! So what then? Today the primary doctor is only a referring doctor to a specialist of this or that -- and without insurance or a job, it is a big problem, which costs lives in the end, or at the least, untold stress and worry.. The people of the United States have to solve this problem. People are dying every day, and suffering financially.... and people like you don't care.... as long as your behind is safe and comfortable. I'm not talking about the welfare roles, and untold people having too many children with all different mothers or fathers, etc.. Something should be done about this; such as, after 2nd child, cash goes into a FUND for the 3rd child, but not given to the parent. And too many foreigners and their families coming while we are drowning in financial problems for people who are already here. Hold up on immigration for the immediate future unless the newcomers have a viable occupation.
My MIL & FIL are not that far away from some tough decisions. They have 5 kids. 4 good ones that will help provide for them when they are indigent The one bad kid is a loser and sucked them dry for the past 30 years. They could have been socking away money. Instead, they foolishly helped raise the loser kid's 3 children, depriving them of a second income as well as increased expenses raising 3 grandkids.
It's been a wake up call for my wife and I. I've been coaching my adult kids that no matter what, I'm not raising my grandkids. If you do something stupid, it's on you, not me. They'll thank me for it later when I'm financially able to care for my wife and I when we are older.
I think it's show the "me" generation let's just get someone to take care of mom. In past generations families lived with or near each other. Family took care of family. I would hope that with the financial down turn we all could take care of each other.
I have the experince of being an only child, I take care of my mother with the help of my kids, husband we all live together.
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