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Caring for Older Loved Ones

The population of older people in the United States is growing as the Silent Generation enters the later stage of life and the Baby Boomers enter and move through retirement.   Medical costs for seniors are on the rise with healthcare inflation running almost double that of general price increases over the last decade.  Estimates are that by 2030, seniors may be paying as much as 20 percent of their income on medical care, in addition to what they receive in Medicare benefits.  For those of us who are, or will be, involved with providing care for older loved ones, this is a serious concern. The figures show the potential impact on the finances and lifestyle of caregivers, forcing some of us to wonder how we will cope.

Financial Impact of Caring for Older Adults

Many in the Boomer and Silent Generations believe in planning for future expenses. Even with the benefit of their forethought, caregivers may still have to spend some of their own money to care for aging parents.  Expenses may include pharmaceuticals, professional nursing care and perhaps home improvements such as ramps and bathroom modifications to care for seniors in the home.  Professional care facilities are available, but of course are very expensive.

Just as there exists a phenomenon of adult children moving in with their parents to save money, many seniors may choose to move in with their adult children. It may be difficult for seniors to take care of themselves, even if they are financially able. The only alternative may be a costly assisted living facility.

Changing Lifestyles

For extended families with close ties, having more adults in the house can be a benefit.  Aside from reducing housing costs, having older parents in the home allows for more quality contact with children and grandchildren as the elders age.

However, the lifestyle changes that come with parents living with their adult children may be challenging. Busy adults will find themselves with less free time as they become on-call service providers for their older parents and children. The grandparents may relish finding themselves in the familiar role of ruling the roost; yet, previously independent adults may bristle at once again having to cater to their parents.

Of course, due to social trends and the genetics of maternal instinct, the burden of caring for elderly parents tends to impact women to a greater degree than men.  There are emotional and financial implications from this trend.  For example, the woman might have already taken time away from workforce to raise children.  This may impact her future earning power and Social Security benefits even if she returns to her career.  Caring for aging parents may compound this effect if she needs to interrupt her career again.

Planning to Care for Older Adults

The challenges presented by caring for an older loved one may be mitigated by some planning and good communication.

•    Older adults can discuss their plans and lifestyle goals with their children, as well as their financial advisor.

•    If you are a younger person, you can talk with a financial advisor about how to plan for caring for your parents and yourself later in life.

•    If you are preparing to share space with your parents or grandparents, sit down and talk about how things will work out.

A Pew Research Center study showed that more older adults are living in their children’s homes in much higher numbers than a generation ago. If you are involved in the care of your parents, you aren’t alone. Seek out resources and information and find out how others have handled the impact on their lives.

At Integra Capital Advisors we include long-term care in our financial planning process to help our clients make the right decision for their family.  Call us at (941) 778-1900 or visit www.integracapitaladvisors.com today to set a time for a complimentary introduction meeting.

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