Boomers cost of careYou would probably do anything for your mom and dad, but the cost of caring for them in their old age can be crippling.

According to the just-released MetLife Study of Caregiving Costs to Working Caregivers: Double Jeopardy for Baby Boomers Caring for Their Parents, the nearly 10 million Americans who are providing care for their aging parents will lose an estimated $3 trillion in wages, pension and Social Security benefits to do so. The study, produced by the MetLife (MET) Mature Market Institute in conjunction with the National Alliance for Caregiving and the Center for Long Term Care Research and Policy at New York Medical College, reports that the average lifetime losses are $324,000 for women and $283,716 for men.

The implications are huge. The percentage of adults providing personal care and/or financial care to a parent has tripled since 1994, according to the report.

"Nearly 10 million adult children over the age of 50 care for their aging parents," said Sandra Timmermann, ED.D., director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute. "Assessing the long-term financial impact of caregiving for aging parents on caregivers themselves, especially those who must curtail their working careers to do so, is especially important, since it can jeopardize their future financial security."

Though the report finds that sons and daughters mostly provide comparable care, daughters are more likely to provide help with dressing, feeding and bathing, while sons are more likely to provide financial assistance, which the report defines as providing $500 or more within the last years.

But the toll for caregivers isn't just financial -- the stress contributes to their own health troubles.

All this is yet more dreary news for Boomers, many of whom already face golden years far less shiny than they'd hope for, with retirements likely to be delayed, or in some instances, canceled entirely because they can't afford to stop working, period.

Easing the Care-Giving Burden

Boomers need help. The report suggests employers can step up to the plate by making resources and programs available that can go a long way in mitigating stress. Doing so of course will ultimately benefit employers who have their eyes on productivity. Among the recommendations for employers: Provide retirement planning and stress management information and offer flex-time and family leave.

The question, though, is what can Boomers do to help themselves?

For starters they can ease the potential burden should they themselves fall sick. "Long-term care insurance is a smart, simple way for Baby Boomers to protect their assets and loved ones. And it isn't necessary to spend a lot in order to have great LTCI coverage. A solid, basic plan does the job and provides many options for care. It's better to apply while you are in relatively good health, too, in order to get the best rates," says Brian Gordon, president of MAGA Ltd., an insurance agency that specializes in long-term care planning.

"Flexible long-term care insurance policies can help mitigate financial and emotional costs and provide options for boomers to provide the best care possible for themselves and their families," he adds.

Three out of four people will need more than regular health care, says Marion Somers, Ph.D., author of Elder Care Made Easier: Doctor Marion's 10 Steps to Help You Care for an Aging Loved One. "The high costs of long-term care add a financial strain to the physical and emotional toll that caring for an aging loved one already brings," she adds. When it comes to figuring out the best insurance plan, she says to be sure to determine what is covered and the level of coverage. "Ask questions and comparison shop where appropriate. Eliminate all excess and/or overlapping insurance," she adds.

To get going on your research about long-term care, check out the nonprofit Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education.

More Advice for Care-Givers
  • Get help. Call your loved ones' Medicare insurance carrier to see if they offer any additional caregiver support programs or additional help for the member such as diabetes management classes, suggests Ross Blair, CEO of Ask if care management is available. Also, reach out for support from friends, family members, and other caregivers who can provide insight to similar situations. There may also be caregiver support groups or agencies in your area, he adds.
  • Take care of yourself. Preserving your own health is just as important as caring for someone else's. Take control of your own life by balancing care-giving with your personal needs. Don't be afraid to take some time out to nurture your interests and tend to your health -- mental, emotional and physical. Know the caregiver's bill of rights.
  • Find out if you qualify for financial assistance. If you're one of the more than 70 million people who provide unpaid caregiving for a family member or friend, it might be possible for you to get a small but regular payment from the government for your caregiving work, says Blair. If the person you're caring for is eligible for Medicaid, a program called "Cash and Counseling" might be available in your state. Call or visit Medicaid to find out. The same holds true if the person you are caring for has long-term care insurance that includes home-care coverage. Call the insurer to ask about this benefit and any possible restrictions.
  • Explore all possibilities. You might want to consider deducting your parent's medical expenses on your taxes. Talk to your accountant. "If you are providing at least 50% of your parent's financial support, this might be an option," explains Herb White, a certified financial planner with Life Certain Wealth Strategies. Expenses can include your unreimbursed medical expenses and in-home health care, among others.
  • Save, save, save. Peter Maris, a certified financial planner with Resource Financial Group puts it simply, "Save more now -- begin earmarking more money for retirement. Save for longer -- remain in the workforce for a longer period of time and spend less now. Take away from discretionary spending or 'fun money' to have more money to stash away in retirement funds." Just get it done.

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My parents have recently taken out a reverse mortgage-At first I thought it was a horrible idea since we have had the home in our family now for many generations but after speaking to my lender they explained that my parents home be mine as long as I can pay off anything that the borrow. Im calculating that the home appreciation alone should cover over the interest costs so it is essentially a free loan for them - I'm glad that they now have more money for their retirement.

July 01 2013 at 4:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

While I was looking for a cheap health insurance my friend told me that there are sites, where people can compare prices from many providers.These sites are the only one way to save money on your insurance, because once you register many companies will make you different offers.The site he suggested me was:

I tried them and I saved more than 30%.Try it.Just register and get free quotes!

January 12 2012 at 4:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It is such a hard process to watch. I’ve been watching my parents go through this with my grandmother and it’s been challenging for everyone involved. I saw a segment on Good Morning America about a book called Baby Boomer’s Guide to Caring for Aging Parents. I’m planning on getting it for my parents to help them with all of the things that need doing now that Grandma isn’t able to do a lot of things herself. Sounds like a great resource for how to get through things.

November 28 2011 at 10:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Nursing homes here cost $5,000 to $6,000 per MONTH (not even good ones). When the elderly run out of money, the taxpayer picks up the tab. It costs us big time but Obamacare will cost us more. I have longterm care insurance. I hope that insurance company doesn't go broke.

June 17 2011 at 8:53 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to savemycountry911's comment

It does no good to low-rate me. It is the truth.

June 19 2011 at 9:29 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Not if America sticks with rational approach offered by Obamacare. Seniors will get the end of life counseling they need to make the proper decison not to burden their chidren with months or years of expensive and essentially wasteful care.

June 16 2011 at 9:39 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to cshae89546's comment

Life and death is up to God.

June 19 2011 at 9:29 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Big John

Why is it that two people can raise six kids but six kids cannot take care of two people?

June 16 2011 at 8:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

how much did it cost for the parents to raise the children
you do not lose money taking care of parents
it is the best way to spend money!

June 16 2011 at 7:45 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Beegd9, I have no idea where you're coming from. Are you not aware that all healthcare costs are expected to rise over the next 5 years? Are you not aware that you are subject to a healthcare industry and not a healthcare service? It just defies logic that anyone in their right mind wants a continuation of our disgrace of healthcare business that serves the few. One way or the other, like it or not, believe it or not, there are people out there that aren't drug addicts, fat lazy no good loafers, poor which isn't quite a crime as of yet but God help us if the Republicans gain. So, what do you think the picture will look like in say 5 years when your friends who have either lost their healthcare due to the fact that they can't afford it anymore? What will the news stories show with old folks protesting on the streets? I suppose you can call out the National Guard to remove them. Perhaps the answer all along was "screw you" as a political platform. It won't look good on television will it? So shortsighted and really kinda stupid.

June 16 2011 at 3:48 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

This is one of the many reasons why Obamas horrible ill-concieved Health Care plan is a recipe for disaster. If you start letting the government try to even the playing field in health care, those of us who take care of ourselves and cost very little in terms of health care, will be paying for everything from premature babies who require $1 million just to come into the world, to the millions of dollars per elderly it takes to keep them from leaving this world. The responsible will also be paying for the irresponsible who never took care of themselves, are drug addicted, fat, the lazy who never move off their couch and get diabetes etc. DOES THIS SOUND RIGHT TO ANYONE? Also, the government has screwed this country up with the biggest bunch of political party partisan decisions, most of which have jammed debt up our butts, gotten us into 3 unconstittional wars, let the Federal Reserve steal trillions of dollars from the publics tax payments, etc... AND YOU WANT TO LET THEM RUN THE MOST EXPENSIVE HUMAN SERVICE THERE IS? One open for lawsuits, tons of clerks on the government payroll, dealing with lawyers and insurance companies day in day out? You are going to let our incompetent government try to manage this, while they cant even live within their budget as it is?

June 16 2011 at 3:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

We pay now or later. Either way they get the farm!

June 16 2011 at 3:15 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply