I’m one of 4 kids in my family. My brother and I are much older than our two younger siblings (who are 23 and 17, respectively). I have a lot of guilt thinking about the younger set having to give this issue such serious thought, already. I wish they had more time to just be young before having to worry about it. My older brother and I have already been worrying about how we are all going to care for our parents as they age for several years, now. My father has suffered more than one stroke, already, and my mother has health problems that cause her to need expensive medication, as well. They do not have anywhere close to enough money set aside for their retirement, and this problem is compounded by the fact that we anticipate that they will likely need more hands-on caregiving as they age.
Fortunately, our parents live in Alabama, which has a relatively low cost of caregiving as compared to many other states (click on the map below to find out the average cost of care in your state).
Unfortunately, those costs still equal MUCH more than my siblings and I could pay in the forseeable future. My brother has a son, and I have two daughters. We both have our own families that we need to care for, not to mention our own retirements that we need to save for so that we aren’t a burden on our own kids later in life. Neither one of us live near our parents, either, so being able to provide some of that care that they might need on our own wouldn’t work unless one of us moved back home (a prospect that is extremely unappealing to both of us!). Additionally, my younger siblings will also one day have families of their own, and I don’t want them to feel as though they have to live nearby, even if that isn’t what is in their own best interest.
To be perfectly honest, it sort of feels like we are waiting for a train wreck. One that we can see coming, but that we don’t know how to stop. Articles like this one on the cost of caregiving to adult children show that we aren’t alone with our fears, or with the reality of how caring for aging parents (and/or paying for that care) can be devastating to your finances. It can even set you up to repeat the cycle with your own children when it is time for you to get some long-term care or daily living assistance.
Genworth is actually a great resource for information on caregiving and caregiver support. They offer resources to help you develop a suggested care plan with your parents (such a great idea to do BEFORE the need arises). They also offer information on local care providers, public resources to help with the costs, and tips on negotiating for discounts. I know my brother and I are going to need all the help we can get to put together a plan that makes sense for our parents, and that doesn’t leave us financially strapped, ourselves.
Readers, have any of you either had to deal with caregiving issues for your aging parents, or have you already developed a plan for when the time comes? How do you help loved ones who lack the resources to cover long term care costs without sacrificing your own plans to save for your later years?