Financial Planning for Caretakers of Aging Family

Summary

  • A great number of Baby Boomer children are taking on roles as caregivers.
  • You are not alone – prioritize self-care as a caregiver and consider support services to help manage your own wellbeing.
  • As caregivers, it’s critical to plan for your own long-term care by securing insurance, health care directives, and financial authorization.

 

Baby Boomers (those born between 1946–1964) are retiring at a record pace: an average of 10,000 Baby Boomers are turning 65 each day, and this trend is expected to continue for the next 20 years.1 As these Baby Boomers enter retirement and live longer, a greater number of adult children are taking on roles as caregivers.

Family Caregivers: The Invisible Support System

Each year, about 40 million Americans provide unpaid care for adults with a chronic, disabling, or otherwise serious health condition.2 This group functions as a crucial and often invisible support system for many Baby Boomers, whether they are aging in place in their homes or in other long-term care settings.

 

The Impacts of Being a Caregiver

Eldercare can involve a range of responsibilities, from assisting with daily living activities (eating, bathing, dressing, and toileting) to household tasks (like cleaning and laundry). Arranging and coordinating care—from financial needs to health care and medical services—also take up a significant amount of time for caregivers.

Along with the physically demanding tasks, caring for a loved one can often be emotionally burdensome, leading to stress and anxiety. While 48% of caregivers reported being in excellent or very good health, 17% of caregivers said their health was fair or poor. And the longer a caregiver is providing care, the likelihood of their health deteriorating increases. When asked about the impact that caregiving has had on their health, 22 percent of caregivers feel their health has gotten worse as a result of caregiving.3

Caregivers: By The Numbers

  • 6 in 10 caregivers are female; the caregiver profile skews towards women.3
  • Caregivers are typically older (between age 50–64), but there are shifting trends in family living arrangements and familial roles.3
  • In 2016 a record 64 million people, or 20% of the US population, lived with multiple generations under one roof in 2016.4
  • Of the 40 million family caregivers mentioned, about 1 in 4 is part of the Millennial generation.2

Resources For Caregivers

Just like when airline safety videos tell you to put your own mask on first before helping others, 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. Just as the name implies, adult day care centers provide a safe and friendly environment for adults to spend some time in, giving caregivers some time to recharge. Adult centers can range from those that provide social interaction or medical care to those dedicated to Alzheimer’s care. Adult care centers are regulated at the state level, and costs can vary depending on your location and the type of services offered. In California, for example, average monthly costs for services are roughly $1,733. Since services can differ widely, it’s important to find a center that provides what you need.
  • Join a caregiver support group, either in your community or online. Research has shown that getting emotional and social 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. The AARP has several resources you can use to find help as a caregiver.
  • 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 California, a 44-hour week of services will run you roughly $5,625 per month.
  • 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 on a regular basis; you can use this list to help get others involved in caregiving activities.

 

Planning Ahead for Long-Term Care

Studies show that half of caregivers say they had no choice in taking on the role of a caregiver.3 And oftentimes, a lack of planning is a likely reason that so many aging adults come to rely on their family members as they age.

So what does eldercare look like for you? Here are some questions to consider:

  1. 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:
    • 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. A study showed that over half of the people surveyed expected Medicare to be their primary source of health coverage in retirement.5 You can read more about Medicare coverage here.

    Family caregivers also experience financial strain: In 2016, family caregivers on average spent roughly $7,000 for out-of-pocket expenses caring for their aging loved ones.6 Working with a wealth advisor to put together a financial plan that encompasses your entire financial picture can help you be prepared for whatever scenario you face.
  3. Who will make decisions for you when you’re unable? Finally, make sure your health care directives and financial authorizations are in place for yourself and your loved ones. As a caregiver, it’s possible that you have already encountered issues with deciding care for your loved ones without prior discussions or guidance, and know just how difficult this can be. After all, when you need these documents to work on your behalf, it’s generally too late to do anything about them.

Creating and maintaining a written financial plan can provide comfort in knowing that your long-term care needs will be met. Knowing that there is a strategy in place they can rely on will also give your family members and loved ones valuable peace of mind. We encourage you to speak with your advisor about how we can support you with your long-term care planning and caregiving duties.

 

Additional Resources

Want to learn more about long-term care? Consider these other resources:

How New Medicare Options Fit Into Your Retirement Planning
Values and Life Lessons for Estate Planning
What You Need to Know About Medicare

 

 

Footnotes

1 “Do 10,000 baby boomers retire every day?” The Washington Post, 7/24/2014.

2 “Millennials: The Emerging Generation of Family Caregivers,” AARP Public Policy Institute, May 2018.

3 National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and AARP Public Policy Institute, Caregiving in the U.S. 2015.

4 “Record 64 Million Americans Live in Multigenerational Households,” Pew Research Center, 4/5/2018.

5 “Medicare, Medicaid and Long-Term Care: Your Questions Answered,” Forbes, 11/21/2017.

6 AARP Research, Family Caregiving and Out-of-Pocket Costs: 2016, November 2016.

 

 

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