Are We Underestimating How Much Help Aging Parents Need At Home?
I cannot tell you how often this issue comes up with families who seek care for their parents. Families very often do not understand how much care an aging parent will need, and that giving quality care to a senior is not the same as hiring a babysitter for a child. The truth is that as we live longer with more chronic diseases and want to have a high quality of life, the cost of supervised quality care is not a trivial item; and it is not covered by Medicare. It has to be planned for well in advance as part of a person’s retirement plan and discussed with family members before a health crisis occurs.
It always amazes me how people plan for the early part of their retirement and for their death but never really plan for the phase in life where they may need daily care from another person. Of course it is hard for most of us to accept that there will be a time in our lives where we will not be able to function as independently as we once were or as we would like to be in a safe manner and that is part of the reason we never plan for it. However, by not planning for it we give up often the control for making our own decisions about how we want to live out our latter years in life to our children and their spouses. Many times our children are acting in a reactionary mode when an event occurs to their parent and they do not know what to do but have to do something fast and their parent is not in the right mental or physical state to be a full participant in this decision making process.
Financing care is often a very big issue with different family members having their own thoughts and often their own personal and financial agendas when it comes to this issue. My advice to anyone – be it a senior or their children – is to have this discussion at the beginning of retirement and then at least every 5 years thereafter to update the conversation and any needed documentation (just like you are supposed to do for estate planning). Make sure at that time all advance directives are in place and everyone involved knows your wishes for caregiving and knows where the financing source for the caregiving will come from.
Finally, if you are 40 or older and the ability to pay for quality caregiving is not in your retirement plan it needs to be looked at carefully with your financial advisor.
Forbes as a wonderful article on this subject here