The Financials of Caring for an Aging Parent

The Financials of Caring for an Aging Parent

As parents get older, most of them want to live out their aging years in their own homes. Who wouldn’t? It’s comfortable, familiar, and in some cases it can be the best financial decision. What happens when Mom, Dad, or Auntie cannot safely live on their own? What is the best choice to make? Obviously they would probably want a family member there to help, and if that is an option for you then count your blessings. Before making any huge life changes like quitting a job, make sure you know if it’s financially wise for you and your loved one to do so.  Let’s take a quick look at some of the issues you need to address:


The true cost of quitting a job. Of course you’ll have a more flexible schedule to take care of your loved one, but at best that is a short term game and does not take into account the long term consequences. By quitting a full time job, you are forfeiting your annual income, health benefits, social security, and any investment or retirement accounts that your company may offer. This may not seem like a big sacrifice over one or two years, but anything beyond that can really start to add up. 


Some companies will let you cut back on hours while still contributing to all your benefits. Some also provide special paid leave for caregivers, similar to maternity leave, but the days off don’t have to take place consecutively. Speak with your HR rep to go over any questions you have. New laws in several states actually make provision for these types of situations. 


If you must become the full time caregiver, then consider getting the rest of the family together and working out a salary for caregiving to be your job. If you’re going to hire someone to check in on Mom anyways, then it may be beneficial to approach it in this way. Most people in the caregiving industry highly suggest making a contract, as you don’t want business between family members to turn ugly. You can also set up a SEP IRA, which is a retirement account for self employed individuals. If you are married, consider enrolling in your spouse’s retirement plan if they allow that. 


Also make sure that you are not taking on the financial costs of your loved one alone. It’s natural for the hands-on caregiver to notice that Mom needs new shoes or that Dad needs a cane and to reach into your own pocket to cover the need. These costs can add up very quickly, and if you have siblings, don’t be afraid to bring these concerns up with them. It’s very helpful to go over this issue at the first sign of a loved one needing care. Waiting until you’re in the moment or after the fact can be more stressful and carry more expectation. 



Most importantly, make time for yourself. This mantra may be over used and over emphasized in the caregiving world, but to ignore it would be a great setback to you, your family, and the one you are caring for. If you do not take the time to enjoy the activities you like, get enough rest, exercise, and spend some time away from your aging loved one, chances are you will become bitter, unhappy, impatient, and very quickly start to loathe your position. Caregiving is rewarding and special, but it is also highly demanding and stressful. You are really making yourself better at your job by taking time each week to unwind, have fun, relax, and be alone. 


If you have questions about in home care, hiring caregivers, the placement process, or anything else, please call us or fill out our online inquiry form. We love people and our passion is to come along side others and help them on their journey. 


These statements have not been approved by a medical or financial professional. They are simply informative. If you have questions regarding your health or the health of a loved one, always consult with a doctor. ​

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