The Cost of Caring For An Elderly Parent

  • October 7, 2016
The Cost of Caring For An Elderly Parent

Nearly 10,000 people turn 65 each day here in America. According to a 2015 Report on Caregiving in the United States from AARP, “an estimated 43.5 million adults in the United States have provided unpaid care to an adult or a child in the prior 12 months,” and as the Baby Boomers continue to age into senior citizenship, that number is expected to increase.

In fact, a New York Times article from 2014 that warned of an impending caregiver shortage found that the Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that personal care aides, home health aides, and nursing assistants are among the fastest-growing occupations in the nation. But what about all the people caring for an elderly parent who are not getting paid? How can you estimate the cost of caregiving services to a loved one? A new study breaks down the cost of what most caregivers pay out of pocket when caring for an aging parent.

The Steep Cost of Caregiving’s Caregiving in 2016 survey analyzed answers that 2500 caregivers gave in response to specific questions about how caring for an elderly parent has affected their lives. They found that 42 percent of caregivers spent an average of $5,000 in annual caregiving-related expenses. And 18 percent spent between $5,000-$9,999 each year.

Given the fact that the median household income in the United States is currently $51,939, having nearly ten percent, or more, of your annual income go towards the cost of caregiving can be devastating to your family.

Even more devastating, the survey also found that for those caring for an elderly parent who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia are likely to pay upwards of $20,000 annually on caregiving expenses.

So, what are the expenses that caregivers are shelling out their cash for? The most common include:

  • Food and clothing
  • Transportation
  • Medications & other medical-related expenses
  • Travel costs for caring for a loved one
  • In-home care
  • Legal services
  • Caregiving services, such as adult day care programs

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What About Caregiver Pay?

Unfortunately, family caregivers typically provide unpaid care for their loved ones, but it’s not impossible to receive some caregiver pay for your hard work. It’s not easy, and it usually requires a lot of paperwork, but here are a few ways you can get reimbursed for your caregiving services:

Long-term Care Insurance

Long-term care insurance has become an increasingly popular way for people to subsidize the expenses that come along with aging. Since people are historically living longer lives, paying into long-term care insurance allows for more financial peace of mind later in life. An additional benefit of long-term care insurance is reimbursement for “activities of daily living,” (ADLs) which include bathing, dressing and using the bathroom.

According to the American Association for Long-term Care Insurance, “individuals with many chronic, or long-term, diseases often have trouble performing some of these ADL's, and the need for assistance with these activities is a measure used to assess when an individual is eligible to use Long-term care insurance benefits.” Of course, each insurance policy varies, so be sure to check what you are eligible for with your insurance provider.

Veteran’s Benefits

The Veteran’s Administration has a Primary Family Caregiver stipend, which is offered to family members who are caring for a veteran. According to the website, “the stipend amount is based on the weekly number of hours of personal care services that an eligible Veteran requires during the month.” The caregiver pay you’ll receive through the VA is “calculated by multiplying the Bureau of Labor Statistics hourly wage for home health aides” in your geographic location, making adjustments for cost of living expenses and then multiplying that number by the total “number of weekly hours of Caregiver assistance required.”

The program provides stipends on a tiered level, depending on the amount of hours the veteran requires for care. Unlike many other caregiver pay programs, the VA will compensate you for up to 40 hours of caregiving services. For more information about the Primary Family Caregiver stipend, read this fact sheet from the VA.

Medicaid: Cash and Counseling Program

Medicaid runs a grant program for caregivers in certain states across the country called Cash and Counseling. According to, the program pays seniors directly to cover the cost of their in-home care and the “amount the senior receives depends on a Medicaid assessment of need and the prevailing pay rate for in-home care aides in that state.”

Once the senior has obtained the money from Medicaid, they can choose to spend it on either an in-home care agency, or on a family caregiver. They can also spend some of the money on additional items or services that help to make their life more comfortable. This includes transportation services, meal delivery, cleaning services or safety equipment.

Caregiver Pay Is Not Enough

Financial recognition of the hard work that caregivers take on every day for their loved ones is only one piece to the caregiving puzzle. It’s also very important that caregivers find the support they need to avoid burning out. The whole idea of “it takes a village,” doesn’t only apply to children; the concept applys to the entire family.

Medical Guardian is here to help. We know that as a caregiver to an aging loved one, you take on a tremendous physical, emotional and financial burden. Our round-the-clock monitoring comes standard with all of our medical alert devices, providing you with greater peace of mind at a price you can afford.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Medical Guardian is a leading provider of innovative medical alert systems that empower people to live a life without limits.

KEYWORDS: cost of caregiving, caregiver pay, caring for an elderly parent

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