How much Americans pay for elder care may be surprising, but there are sources that can help. Another surprise: millennials spend the largest percentage of their income on caregiving. Is it because their income is that much less, or are they more generous?
According to a recent CBS MoneyWatch article, “How to ease the pain of paying for elder care,” the cost of caregiving for parents, spouses or partners is shared by members of all generations, although the percentages vary. Baby Boomers spend 13% of their annual income on unpaid caregiving, and members of the Silent Generation, ages 71 to 91, spend about 25%, mostly on spouses or partners. The GenXers—ages 35 to 50—spend about 24% of their annual income on caregiving for parents, and millennials (ages 18 to 34) spend the largest percentage, at 27%. If you thought that millennials were still living off of their parents, it’s time to change that stereotype!
To address the impact that this cost has on the household, have a family meeting to assess your family’s financial and aging status and to plan for what may be required throughout the year. These types of discussions can help you plan for future elder care expenses in order to place them into a budget, along with your own retirement savings and savings for children’s education.
One source: ease the financial burden of caring for a loved one by investigating government programs. Many advocates are currently anticipating coming legislation that will aid family caregivers. State and local governments may also offer tax breaks and other aid programs for seniors, particularly those individuals needing home renovations to stay in their homes. Those tasked with caregiving should also look into neighborhood religious and community groups for support. There may be senior- and disabled-specific funding programs, along with able-bodied volunteers who can help lighten the load.
Depending on the family’s financial situation, including time constraints due to work schedules, it might make sense to look into professional help. An elder law attorney should be able to recommend an aging life-care professionals (formerly known as “geriatric care managers”) who will be able to help the family delve into elder care resources, including financial help. These professionals are usually social workers, gerontologists or other health care professionals with a focus on helping the elderly. They will be able to help you and your family plan for medical emergencies. Your elder care attorney will also work with your family to make sure that important documents, including power of attorney, health care proxies and other important documents are in place. Doing the planning in advance of an emergency is advised, since you will have more options and avenues of assistance.
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