Not long ago we discovered an important article that sheds light on something many of us would rather not talk about: the high cost of caring for our aging parents. We’re reminding you of this important fact and linking you once again to this article in hopes that it will stimulate you to plan carefully. Otherwise some deep financial and emotional pitfalls may lie ahead.
The article is from the Money website of U.S. News and World Report. The ominous title speaks volumes: it reads, “Taking Care of Your Aging Parents? It’s Going to Cost You.” Click here to read the article. Even though it’s a few months old, the message is both important and relevant, especially as you plan ahead for your own retirement needs. After all, protecting your assets as you age is a vital part of a solid plan, but those assets can evaporate quickly if you’re not managing them prudently.
The article quotes a study by Northwestern Mutual Insurance, polling over 1,300 adults in the US. It reveals that nearly 40% of Americans surveyed say they are, or have been, a caregiver to someone with health concerns or special needs, not including children. And as we live longer, that statistic seems likely to increase. In the words of the US News article, “It’s that circle of life. Once upon a time, your parents took care of you. And if your parents are lucky to live long enough, you may end up taking care of them.”
A surprising number of adult caregivers say they had not taken into account the hard costs of caring for Mom or Dad as they get older. This failure to plan is extremely costly. That same survey showed that many caregivers (about one-third) find themselves spending roughly one-fourth of their income taking care of a parent or aging loved one. That’s a huge hit to any budget! Sadly, here at AgingOptions, we frequently talk to clients and radio listeners for whom the expense of caring for a parent hits at precisely the wrong time, right when the caregiver is trying to plan for his or her own retirement needs. It’s essential to plan ahead.
By far the biggest unanticipated cost is round the clock care, which your loved one may need, especially if they suffer with dementia. While you may not be responsible for the direct cost, there will be a host of indirect costs (such as travel, or lost time from work) that can pose a significant burden. Everything from hearing aids to moving costs to home safety items may end up impacting your pocketbook. And then, of course, there’s time. “If time is money,” says US News, “you may well feel like you’re broke.” The article goes on to say, “Families may quickly find the needs of their loved one outstrip their availability and their expertise, and that can be when the crisis develops.”
But it doesn’t have to be this way. The article makes the same argument we’ve been making in our LifePlanning seminars and on the radio for years: “Whatever you do, when it comes to protecting your parents’ assets, you can’t wait until the last minute.” The article recommends talking with an elder law specialist who is well versed in all aspects of the legal, financial and medical aspects of aging. That describes Aging Options to a “t.”
The bottom line is that serving as a caregiver is a noble choice, but one that comes with both an emotional and a financial price tag. This is one reason we strongly recommend you and your family should all be part of the retirement conversation early on. Good healthy communication among family members is an essential component of a good retirement plan, and here at our practice we frequently conduct family consultations that get all the issues and expectations out in the open. It’s hard to describe the positive difference that can make in a family’s peace of mind and sense of cooperation.
Planning for these financial and emotional issues can be daunting, but we would consider it a privilege to assist you. We call our unique approach LifePlanning, because it takes into account all the facets of a strong, sustainable plan: your finances, your family, your housing choices, your legal affairs and your medical needs. If you’re eager to learn more about this revolutionary approach to retirement planning, why not attend one of our upcoming LifePlanning seminars? There’s no cost, and it’s a terrific way to gain insight into all aspects of retirement planning: family issues, financial concerns, health care options, housing choices and legal obligations.
Simply click on the Upcoming Events tab for dates, times and locations. You can also register online for the seminar of your choice. But do it today – these seminars often fill up quickly. We’ll look forward to meeting you at a LifePlanning Seminar soon.
(originally reported at http://money.usnews.com)