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The Shocking Cost of Caregiving Expenses – and What to Do About It

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If you provide caregiving services for an aging relative, you might not realize how much it costs you out of pocket to help your loved one. The expenses of taking food to your older parent, picking up prescriptions and supplies, buying clothing and providing transportation and other incidentals, can add up to $5,000 a year or more. Most Americans do not have an extra $5,000 lying around to spend – year after year – on these additional costs.

Covering these items will likely mean you have to work. Since you cannot be in two places at one time, you will miss work when you run your aging parent to the doctor and take care of other necessary errands. You might get to work late or have to leave early. Many caregivers lose their jobs, because of absences due to taking care of an older parent. You need to know about the shocking cost of caregiving expenses – and what to do about it.

Find Sources of Funding or Services

Your loved one might qualify for additional benefits through Social Security. Medicaid can help with Medicare premiums, co-pays, deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can provide additional funds to help pay for everyday items.

Your state might offer programs that can provide food and transportation. Check with your local Council on Aging office for services in your area.

If either of your parents served in the military, the Veterans Administration (VA) might provide Aid and Assistance to pay for caregiving services. Veterans and their spouses can also receive other types of benefits, like medical care.

If your aging parent needs long-term care, think about having them sell their home. Doing so can reduce many of their monthly costs and provide a source of funds to pay for memory care, assisted living, or a nursing home. See if your parent has bank accounts or investments that could get liquidated to pay for their needs. They might be able to “spend down” to qualify for Medicaid.

Try to Avoid Having History Repeat Itself

Many people end up paying for everyday items because their elderly parents cannot afford even the necessities of life. Pensions are almost unheard of now. When a person retires, he will have to live on his savings, investments, retirement income and Social Security.

For quite a few Americans, the Social Security check is barely enough to pay the utilities. People often do not understand how much their Social Security check will get reduced by being a stay-at-home parent, when the children are young or by working part-time. They find out too late, that they might only get a few hundred dollars a month during their golden years.

To make sure your children do not have to help you financially when you retire, use a free online tool to calculate how much Social Security and other income you can expect when you retire. If that number is too low, explore ways to increase your retirement income, like contributing more to your 401(K) and working a few more years to retire after your full retirement age. Consider long-term care insurance, particularly if Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia seem to run in your family.

Every state has different regulations. You can talk with an elder law attorney in your area about how your state differs from the general law of this article.

References:

HuffPost. “Caregiving Will Cost You $5000 A Year – And Maybe Your Job.” (accessed October 9, 2019) https://www.huffpost.com/entry/caregiving-will-cost-you-_b_12047182

Suggested Key Terms: the high cost of caregiving, how caregiving could cost you your job, finding sources of funds and services for your aging parents