Looking out for your 80-something mother may have seemed like a natural fit for you, especially if you’re the nurturing sort.. But after months of caregiving, you may see signs that extend beyond frazzled nerves and an exhausted body. Much to your surprise, your bank account is being depleted too, and that’s got you worried.
Maybe you can afford chipping in for your mom’s increasing medical needs, but what will you do when she needs more support? Do you have the resources to pay $7,000 to $12,000 per year on out-of-pocket costs as some other family caregivers do? (See AARP’s Family Caregiving and Out-of-Pocket Costs: 2016 Report for more details.) Or will you join the 24 percent of family caregivers who have trouble making ends meet? (See Merrill Lynch/Age Wave’s The Journey of Caregiving study.)
The situation may be more troubling if, like many other caregivers, you’ve had to cut your work hours adding to your shrinking bank account. (Nation-wide, the annual cost of family caregiving is $522 billion, according to Rand Corporation’s 2015 The Opportunity Cost of Informal Elder-Care in the United States report.)
Despite these sobering statistics, the good news is that you can help mom without jeopardizing your own retirement — that is, if you play your cards smart.
Get prepared before a crisis occurs
If your family hasn’t already done so, set up some conversations to discuss who will manage the various aspects of care (never take on everything by yourself!). Even if talking about finances and long-term care is uncomfortable, don’t avoid these topics. Given the cost of long-term care, the price for “money silence” is high, as noted in this 7 tips for talking to your aging parents about money article. (The median cost for homecare is about $4,000 per month while a private nursing home room is more than $8,000, according to the 2017 Genworth Cost of Care Survey.)
Another critical step is to invest in the right caregiving technology. Top of the list should be smart trackers and wearables. One that predicts changes in gait, or monitors your loved one’s health can alert you to changes in their behavior and avert a crisis that necessitates a costly hospital or nursing home stay.
In addition, if you manage finances for your loved one (or see it in your future), save time and worry by delegating bill paying to third-party services like Silverbills. As well, an online care calendar can help you easily coordinate care with other relatives and friends so that you get a break.
This may all seem very complicated and overwhelming. If so, you might consider a multi-faceted app that ties everything together with advanced connected care, information sharing and remote monitoring, saving you hours of time each week and giving you the support you need.