Here’s a number that will give you something to think about, if you are a caregiver or are about to become one: the value of friends and family caregiving amounts to about $470 billion per year, according to an AARP Public Policy Institute Report. Caring for a loved one has certain costs in time and money that are difficult to predict.
U.S. News & World Report says, in “7 Myths About Caregiving Costs,” you should sift through the financial details, as early as possible, to save time and money in the long term. Let’s look at some common misconceptions concerning the costs of caregiving, as well as the realities to expect.
Your relative will stay at home and not have caregiving expenses. While your aging relative may never move to an assisted living facility, other care-related costs could still arise because many adult children take on the responsibilities for their aging parent gradually. You eventually may need to bring in skilled nursing support or arrange for in-home care. Even if your senior never lives outside of his own home, responsibilities like these define the role of a caregiver, and the costs creep up over time.
All home help will be paid for by insurance. You may think that health insurance or Medicare will pay for all of the costs. However, in most instances, you'll need to find other funds for daily help at home. Health insurance and Medicare never pay for custodial care.
It’s easy to figure out how much assistance at home will cost. The precise amount your loved one or family will spend on bringing in home assistance can vary significantly. It really depends on the level of care needed, along with whether a patient has long-term care insurance or any other form of long-term insurance, where they live, and if they qualify for Medicaid. The cost can also vary, based on the family situation where relatives are available to help on certain days, reducing the amount needed to pay for professional caregiving assistance.
The cost of caregiving is merely financial. If you’re taking hours every week of your days caring for a loved one, you may experience struggles in other areas of your life. This could mean you have little time for other family and friends, sleep, or exercise. These can lead to non-financial costs like increased stress, your own health problems and the emotional strain of caring for an aging loved one.
You can’t afford a caregiver, so you're not going to get one. If your aging parent has few financial resources or other family members can’t help pay for professional care, you should look at what other resources may be available.
Caregiving won’t affect your own finances. Sorry, but helping a loved one may entail additional physical demands that can affect your career and your financial status. Caregivers often work less hours, forfeit promotions, change jobs and even leave the workforce.
A discussion about finances can wait until care is warranted. Not so. If your loved one is now in good health and living at home, it can still be a wise idea to plan, so that if a crisis such as an accident occurs, everyone is ready.
You need to have this discussion, but you also need to be sensitive to your loved one. Try starting with some simple questions, to find out what they know about available resources. Do they know what services they might be eligible for? Find out who they would want to have as Power of Attorney and who they would want to make financial and health care decisions on their behalf if they can’t. Starting the conversation may be hard, but these are important topics and you’ll be in a better position to help, if you have the necessary information.
Reference: U.S. News & World Report (Dec. 12, 2018) “7 Myths About Caregiving Costs”