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Financial Planning for Caregivers of Aging Family Members

Jennifer Baick

MBA, CFP®, CDFA Senior Director, Financial Planning Group


If you’re simultaneously reaching retirement age and taking on a caregiver role, here’s what you need to know to stay on financial track.

Financial Planning for Caregivers of Aging Family Members Image

2024 will be a record-breaking year for retirement in the U.S., with an average of 11,000 Americans turning 65 per day from now until December. In fact, 4.1 million Americans will continue to turn 65 this year and every year through 2027.1 If you’re one of the many turning 65 – while taking on a caregiver role – here’s what you need to know.

Family caregivers: The invisible support system

Each year, about 44 million Americans provide 37 billion hours of unpaid, “informal” care for adult family members and friends who aren’t able to help themselves fully on their own due to declining health, illness, injury, or underlying medical condition.2 These caregivers function as a crucial and often invisible support system, juggling a wide range of responsibilities that may include preparing meals, household tasks, medication management, transportation, managing finances, and other daily needs.

A caregiving data portrait

Family caregivers often work long hours and are frequently unpaid for their time spent supporting loved ones. According to A Place for Mom:

  • In 2020, 41.8 million Americans provided unpaid care to an adult over the age of 50. That’s nearly 17% of the U.S. adult population.
  • 89% of caregivers provide care for a relative or other loved one, such as a spouse.
  • 23.7 hours per week is the average amount of time caregivers spend providing unpaid care for loved ones they don’t live with; those who live with their care recipient spend 37.4 hours a week.
  • More than 75% of all caregivers are female.
  • The average caregiver is 50.1 years old.
  • Caregivers provide an estimated $470 billion in free labor each year.3

Along with the physically demanding tasks, caring for a loved one can often be emotionally burdensome, leading to exhaustion, irritability, stress, anxiety, and guilt – a condition known as “caregiver burnout.” These symptoms are very common, with studies showing that more than 60% of caregivers experience symptoms of caregiver burnout.4

Resources for caregivers

Taking care of yourself first is one of the most important things you can do as a caregiver. Here are some ways you can prioritize self-care as a caregiver:

  • Consider an adult day care. As the name implies, adult day care centers provide a safe and friendly environment, giving caregivers time to recharge. Adult centers can range from those that provide social interaction or medical care to those dedicated to Alzheimer’s care. Costs can vary depending on the location and the type of services offered. In 2024, the median cost of adult day care is around $98 per day in the U.S., but prices vary. Services are most expensive in sparsely populated states like North Dakota ($185). They’re cheapest in Alabama ($46) and Texas ($52). Nationally, families can expect to spend about $2,120 for one month of adult day care for their loved one.5
  • Join a caregiver support group, either in your community or online. Research has shown that getting social and emotional support can be tremendously helpful. Support groups can provide a forum for sharing and listening to other caregivers who are going through common and shared experiences. AARP has a comprehensive listing of caregiving topics including how to set boundaries, tips for splitting costs among siblings, making an aging parent’s home safe, and more.
  • Utilize homemaker services. Homemaker services (or in-home care) help support independent living, including assistance with cooking, housekeeping, running errands, and helping with day-to-day tasks. Costs can vary depending on where you live and what services are provided. In 2023, the monthly median cost for in-home care was $5,720.6
  • Ask for help. Sometimes, this is the most difficult step for caregivers. It’s important to acknowledge that you don’t have to do it alone and that it’s okay to ask for help from friends and relatives. Keep a list of tasks that you complete regularly; you can use this list to help get others involved in caregiving activities.

Planning for long-term care

While their work is essential to the health and well-being of others, more than half of caregivers say they had no choice in taking on the role.7 Often, a lack of planning is the likely reason that so many aging adults come to rely on their family members as they age. What does eldercare look like for you? Here are some questions to consider:

Where do you want to live? 

Depending on family dynamics, you may choose to live near or with family members as you age. Most of us would prefer to stay in our homes and receive home care. But circumstances may change, or complex health needs may prevent this arrangement. Some alternatives include:

1. Independent living or retirement communities are generally suitable for those who have limited care needs and desire a simplified lifestyle. They provide numerous social activities, from communal meals and fitness programs to housekeeping and other amenities.

    • Assisted living communities provide care and supervision, including planned activities, housekeeping, laundry, meals, wellness programs, and transportation. They offer limited medical assistance but not skilled nursing.
    • Continuing care communities offer the widest range of options to support various stages of life. Spanning independent living and skilled nursing to hospice care, residents in these communities can age in place without having to relocate.
    • Memory care communities specialize in providing care to aging adults with cognitive issues, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia, and memory loss.
    • Nursing homes, or skilled nursing facilities, provide care for those who have illnesses or conditions that require full-time monitoring and medical care.

2. How will you pay for long-term care? One of the most common misconceptions about Medicare is that long-term care is covered. Fact: It’s not. In 2021, family caregivers on average spent $7,242 for out-of-pocket expenses.8 This underscores the importance of working with a wealth advisor to help you identify and explore arrangements, make informed decisions, and put a game plan in place to solve for these future possibilities.

3. Who will make decisions for you when you’re unable? As a caregiver, you know how important healthcare directives and financial authorizations are when decisions need to be made. For this same reason, getting your affairs in order – including planning for your estate, finances, and medical care – will also help provide peace of mind to you and your family and ensure the outcomes you want.

You work hard to grow your wealth, let Mercer Advisors help you preserve it. If you are a client, speak with your advisor about how we can support your long-term care planning and caregiving duties. If you are not a client, let’s talk.

Mercer Advisors Inc. is a parent company of Mercer Global Advisors Inc. and is not involved with investment services. Mercer Global Advisors Inc. (“Mercer Advisors”) is registered as an investment advisor with the SEC. The firm only transacts business in states where it is properly registered or is excluded or exempted from registration requirements.

All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author as of the date of publication and are subject to change. Some of the research and ratings shown in this presentation come from third parties that are not affiliated with Mercer Advisors. The information is believed to be accurate but is not guaranteed or warranted by Mercer Advisors. Content, research, tools and stock or option symbols are for educational and illustrative purposes only and do not imply a recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell a particular security or to engage in any particular investment strategy. For financial planning advice specific to your circumstances, talk to a qualified professional at Mercer Advisors.

This document may contain forward-looking statements including statements regarding our intent, belief or current expectations with respect to market conditions. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. While due care has been used in the preparation of forecast information, actual results may vary in a materially positive or negative manner. Forecasts and hypothetical examples are subject to uncertainty and contingencies outside Mercer Advisors’ control.

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board) owns the CFP® certification mark, the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification mark, and the CFP® certification mark (with plaque design) logo in the United States, which it authorizes use of by individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.