Sticker Shock: The cost of caring

Sticker Shock:
The cost of caring

In-home care, assisted living, walkers, prescription copays—it adds up

check, cost of nursing home

The Alzheimer’s Association estimated end-of-life care costs in 2016 were between $217,820 and $341,651. 

1 in 4 adults ages 45 years old or older are financially unprepared for long-term care expenses,
2015 – AARP

Surprising costs add stress to an emotionally charged situation when your senior’s health is faltering. 

Do you want a rough idea how much care costs in your area? Estimate the cost using this online calculator. When we researched options for my father, this calculator was pretty accurate for where we live in California.

cost of nursing home screenshotThere were three key “aging sticker shocks” that surprised us: 

  • uncovered costs of some prescription drugs, 
  • nursing home stays with limited Medicare and/or supplemental insurance coverage, 
  • In-home care, assisted living and memory care not covered by Medicare.

For the estimated 7 million Boomers who provide long distance care, actual out of pocket expenses amount to almost $5,000 per month. For caregivers who have, or are considering leaving the workforce to care for an ailing parent, the costs are even greater—over $650,000 in forfeited salaries, benefits and pensions.

Understand your options and develop back-up plans before it is necessary to help your senior make a long-term care decision. 

Here are three steps to systematically evaluate their current financial situation: 

  1. Review your senior’s finances. If they are reluctant to discuss details, this article by Cameron Huddleston presents good strategies. Identify all sources of income and expenses for Your Person by filling out this Asset Calculator. Even though the results are for California, if you are interested in qualifying for Medicaid now or in the future, it will tell you which assets are Medicaid-exempt.
  2. Find and review insurance policies, including life, medical, home, car, etc.
  3. Find a financial professional to advise you on managing Your Person’s assets.  The Senate Committee on Aging recommends looking for someone with a financial gerontology certification; however the Securities and Exchange Commission does not specifically endorse any financial advisor titles, like elder specialist. Your employer may offer financial counseling services.

Once you have a detailed picture of what care might cost and the assets available, you’ll need to find creative ways to pay for that care. Look for another article in the future about surprising sources for funding long-term care.

May you find peace in loving one another well!

Debbie McDonald is the Founder of Ways & Wane, an online platform that helps you help your aging parent. She lives in Northern California with her husband.