The financial toll of caring for someone

It is fairly often that we see reports out there about how much it costs to raise a child from birth through college and those numbers are quite startling.

However, there is another expense that hits almost three-quarters of all adults in the US: caring for an elder.

Just when you find yourself finally finished with paying for braces, a teenager's car insurance, and college, you feel that instant "raise" in your paycheck and the sense of relief that comes right along with it. But then, you are hit with what is a seemingly unforeseen expense, paying for the ongoing care of an aging loved one.

It may come as a big surprise that the cost of the day-in and day-out basic healthcare needs of your loved one are not reimbursed Medicare. Assistance with activities such as bathing, dressing, grooming, transportation, and meal preparation are frequently pulled out of the pockets and change purses of family members.

A recent AARP study has found that three out of every four family caregivers experience out-of-pocket costs as a result of caregiving. What's more alarming: on average, caregivers spend about 20 percent of their annual income paying for necessary care for a loved one. These costs often come at a time when family caregivers are finally able to start to think about saving for their own retirement. Caregivers place their retirement savings on hold and put their own financial futures at risk.

Because of the financial pinch, family caregivers often cut out important things in their own budgets like regular health screenings. Statistically, caregiving hits at an age when caregivers themselves have chronic conditions which can place their own future health at risk.

There are other some additional ways to pay for supportive care:

  • Long-Term Care Insurance - This type of policy covers basic daily needs over an extended time. While healthcare insurance or Medicare helps pay for immediate medical expenses, for example a doctor visit or hospital stay, long-term care insurance helps people defray the cost of chronic illnesses.
  • Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefit - The Aid and Attendance benefit is a monetary benefit that helps eligible veterans and their surviving spouses (widows/widowers) to pay for the assistance they need in everyday functioning (eating, bathing, dressing, and medication management).
  • Reverse Mortgage - While most traditional mortgages let borrowers access funds to purchase a home, one type of mortgage works in the exact opposite way. With a reverse mortgage, the homeowner withdraws a portion of the equity available in a home they already own.
  • Life Insurance - Accelerated death benefits let you get an early payout (before you die) from your life insurance company. To have such benefits, they must be part of your policy; you can receive the money only under certain circumstances.

  • You are not alone hop on over to ABC11's Caregivers Corner to get support from the nearly 1,000 other people in our community who are faced with similar challenges. Join us biweekly for our live Caregivers Corner where we answer your questions about caring for a loved one. Get connected to resources and support.
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