There are a lot of myths about caregiving costs, and the wrong information can add up fast. Protect yourself and your loved one, by learning what resources are available for what services.

Here’s a number that will give you something to think about, if you are a caregiver or are about to become one: the value of friends and family caregiving amounts to about $470 billion per year, according to an AARP Public Policy Institute Report. Caring for a loved one has certain costs in time and money that are difficult to predict.

You should sift through the financial details of caregiving, as early as possible, to save time and money in the long term. Let’s look at some common misconceptions concerning the costs of caregiving, as well as the realities to expect.

1) Your relative will stay at home and not have caregiving expenses. While your aging relative may never move to an assisted living facility, other care-related costs could still arise because many adult children take on the responsibilities for their aging parent gradually. You eventually may need to bring in skilled nursing support or arrange for in-home care. Even if your senior never lives outside of his own home, responsibilities like these define the role of a caregiver, and the costs creep up over time.

2) All homecare help will be paid for by insurance. You may think that health insurance or Medicare will pay for all of the costs. However, in most instances, you’ll need to find other funds for daily help at home. Health insurance and Medicare never pay for custodial care, absent special long term care insurance for home care. Your financial choices will either be savings, family resources, or government and public benefits programs. 

3) It’s easy to figure out how much assistance at homè will cost. The precise amount your loved one or family will spend on bringing in home assistance can vary significantly. It depends on the level of care needed, along with whether a patient has long-term care insurance, where they live, the available worker pool, and if they can qualify for Medicaid. The cost can also vary, based on the family’s availability to help on certain days, reducing the amount needed to pay for professional caregiving assistance.

4) The cost of caregiving is merely financial. If you’re dedicating hours every week caring for a loved one, you may experience struggles in other areas of your life. This could mean you have little time for other family and friends, sleep, or exercise. These can lead to non-financial costs like increased stress, your own health problems and emotional strain.

5) You can’t afford a caregiver, so you’re not going to get help. If your aging parent has few financial resources or other family members can’t help pay for professional care, you should apply for government benefits such as state or county senior services, or for federal home care services such as Medicaid.

6) Caregiving won’t affect your own finances. Unfortunately, helping a loved one may entail additional physical demands that can affect your career and your financial status. Caregivers often work less hours, forfeit promotions, change jobs and even leave the workforce.These personal and career sacrivicies have great financial impact on you and your family.  The less you work, the lower your own retirement and social security benefits. 

You need to have this discussion with your elder and with your family, but you also need to be sensitive. Try starting with some simple questions, to find out what they know about available senior care resources. Do they know what services they might be eligible for?  Introduce the idea of designating a Power of Attorney and health care directive. Find out who they would want to make financial and health care decisions on their behalf if they can’t. 

Starting the conversation may be hard, but these are important topics and you’ll be in a better position to help if you have the necessary information. Contact us today. 

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