Calculating the Costs of Caring for Aging Parents in Your Home

Moving your aging loved ones into your home can cost much more than you would expect. More than half of the 34 million Americans caring for aging parents must do without items or services they need in order to handle the financial responsibilities of that care, according to AgingCare.com. In some cases, even grandchildren must make sacrifices for their grandparents’ well-being. This is why it’s important to carefully consider and plan for all the costs that may be associated with a move before you decide what’s right for your family.

Preparing Your Home
Before your parent moves into your home, there may be extensive remodeling and renovation required. First, you’ll need to consider the space. Will you need to add a room or bathroom? Will the current layout provide enough privacy for both your parent and your family?

The mobility of your loved one is also a consideration. Many seniors struggle with stairs as they age. If you have stairs, you may need to install ramps or invest in a stairlift. Caring for an aging parent in your home almost always requires upgrades. At the very least, most seniors need grab bars in the bathroom and slip-resistant strips added in the shower to help prevent falls.

Calculating Care Costs
If your aging parent doesn’t need a lot of help, you may be able to limit your immediate care costs to a monthly subscription for an emergency medical alert system; for seniors who need more assistance, the costs can quickly add up. If you provide around-the-clock care for your parents on your own, you’ll need to budget for respite care — or skilled nursing care, if necessary. If you’re working full-time, you can expect to pay about $21 an hour for a home health aide to care for your loved one, according to a survey from the MetLife Mature Market Institute. This can add up to $21,840 or more each year.

Estimating Living Expenses
An often overlooked aspect of caring for an aging parent is the increase in daily living expenses. It’s important to budget for extra groceries, soap, toothpaste, household cleaning supplies, and increased utility bills when you’re planning to move a loved one into your home.

Seeking Professional Advice
There are a number of reasons you may want to consult a financial planner before moving your aging parents into your home. For example, if your loved one doesn’t sign a rental agreement with you and isn’t charged fair market rent, he may lose eligibility for some government benefits. This is because Medicaid and Social Security consider free housing part of an income category called “in-kind support and maintenance.”

There also may be tax breaks that make it beneficial to claim your parents as dependents. This requires paying for more than 50 percent of their food, housing, and medical costs. Seeking advice from a financial adviser who can look at your specific situation is the most effective way to determine which of these options is best for your family.

Caring for an aging parent costs much more than many people expect. While it can be a difficult financial decision to make, moving your loved one into your home is often the best choice. After all, it’s much easier to care for a loved one when she’s across the hall than across the country. Being prepared for the costs of caring for aging parents in your home can help you make this transition more easily.

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