Financial Guide to Caring for Aging Parents

If your aging parent needs more attention in their later years, you may feel uncertain about your options. Who’s going to care for them as they get older? How much will their care cost, and how will you pay for it?

Though talking with your parent about money can be difficult, it’s a necessary conversation to have. You should know and understand what they want so you can give them the care they need and deserve without sacrificing your financial future.

Discuss Your Parent’s Wishes

Sit down with your parent and have an open discussion with them about how they want to approach their care as they get older. It’s a good idea to have this conversation with them before they start needing assistance.

That way, you can get a clear understanding of what they’d like to do and begin making a plan to help them fulfill their wishes. Don’t be surprised if your parent brings up the subject with you first.

Take a look at some of the options that may be available to your parent.

  • Moving into a skilled nursing facility that provides ongoing medical care
  • Moving into an assisted living facility that provides limited services and allows residents some level of independence
  • Aging in place and getting assistance with what are termed Activities of Daily Living from a home health aide
  • Moving in with a child who can provide care for them daily

Understand the Costs of Long-Term Care

The costs of long-term care will vary greatly depending on the option your parent needs. Living in a nursing home or skilled nursing facility permanently tends to be the most expensive option, while an assisted living facility – which provides a lower level of care – can be more affordable.

Having your parent remain in their own home and receive assistance from a home health aide is often more affordable than having them move into a nursing home, especially if they’ve paid off their mortgage.

If you or a sibling has room, letting your parent live with you can be the most cost-effective option. However, there are other costs to consider before you invite your parent to move in.

In some cases, insurance can help to cover the costs of long-term care in a nursing or assisted living facility. Your parent might have purchased a long-term care insurance plan in anticipation of needing to use it one day. They might also have a life insurance policy that will cover the cost of living in a nursing home. In the case of home health care, Medicare will provide coverage for short-term care, but only for intermittent care.

When talking to your parent about what they want, you should review any insurance plans they have to get a clear idea of what they cover and whether that coverage will be adequate.

Should You Care for Your Parent Yourself?

Inviting your parent into your home and caring for them yourself can seem like the most budget-friendly option. Plus, if you have kids, they’ll get to spend more time with their grandparent.

Before you make that kind of commitment, ask yourself if you’ll have the time to do it. The average caregiver provides about 20 hours of care each week. If you’re working outside the home and have small children, it can be tricky to find an extra hour or two each week, let alone 20.

You may need to rearrange your work schedule or stay home to care for your parent, which can affect your ability to plan for retirement, save for your children’s college education, or reach other financial goals.

Can You Afford the Expenses?

Before you invite your parent to move in with you, take a close look at your finances and budget to confirm that you can afford to provide their care.

Even if your parent doesn’t need help with daily living activities, having them move in with you will increase your living expenses. You’ll need to buy more groceries and might see an uptick in your utility bills.

If they do need care, whether from you or from a home health aide, calculate how much that will cost and run the numbers to see if it works with your budget. Can you make ends meet if you have to stop working or work fewer paid hours? What can you cut from your budget to accommodate having your parent live with you?

PSECU Can Help You Manage Your Money

It’s important to plan ahead and consider all options so that you can give your parents the love and attention they deserve, while not jeopardizing your own financial future. We have free resources available to help you get started in our Online Learning Center.

For more tips on securing your financial future, visit our WalletWorks page.

The content provided in this publication is for informational purposes only. Nothing stated is to be construed as financial or legal advice. Some products not offered by PSECU. PSECU does not endorse any third parties, including, but not limited to, referenced individuals, companies, organizations, products, blogs, or websites. PSECU does not warrant any advice provided by third parties. PSECU does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided by third parties. PSECU recommends that you seek the advice of a qualified financial, tax, legal, or other professional if you have questions.