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Are You Prepared for the Financial Toll of Caregiving?

Can you afford to pay not only now, but for months or even years? Or, will paying these costs lead to financial hardship or financial ruin?

Reviewed by
Rick Lauber

$297 per day, or $9,034 per month. This is the average cost of a private long-term care room in the United States as reported by this 2022 Cost of Care Survey by Genworth. It’s a staggering amount which many seniors and family caregivers struggle to continually pay --but it is only one of the many expenses associated with senior healthcare. The list of fees can be both extensive and expensive, but many caregivers are often not prepared to assume these costs. Can you afford to pay not only now, but for months or even years? Or, will paying these costs lead to financial hardship or financial ruin? By answering the following questions, you can better plan.

Are your senior’s finances in good order?

Talking about money with a senior can be uncomfortable, depending on your family relationship (remembering my own aging parents, they were always very private about their financial affairs; discussing these matters was certainly out of my own comfort zone but I had to gently push Mom and Dad for this information). Family caregivers will need to know the value of accumulated savings, investment information, bank account numbers, location of bank account (and bank security box keys), and so on. Remember that a senior may hold separate bank accounts in various locations. This isn’t a time for family caregivers to be shy. Include all sources of parental income as well – pensions, bank interest, investments, rental properties, etc. As an author, my father also received regular royalty checks for sold books … granted, these were modest in amount, but receiving the extra funds did help to cover some of his healthcare costs. 

What needs doing now and what can be postponed? 

Family caregivers swooping in to make wholesale changes will often meet with resistance. The reason for this is understandable … seniors will have years of experience managing their own affairs independently and may become very stubborn when their ability to do so is questioned. In the early days of my own caregiving experience, I was granted joint signing authority on my parent’s bank account and began by writing checks to cover regular bills and other costs. Not only did this relieve my parents of this job, it also helped them to get more used to the arrangement (and, perhaps, to also help build trust and confidence that I could handle the responsibility).  

What are your senior’s monthly expenses? 

By gathering information about a loved one’s mortgage, car payment(s), credit card debt, and so on, family caregivers can have a much better idea of how much is being spent (and where the money is being spent). Don’t overlook the smaller expenses… Can these be eliminated? I canceled my father’s monthly magazine subscriptions when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and he could no longer enjoy reading these as he once did. Many expenses can be paid via automatic withdrawal. This saves time and trouble for seniors and family caregivers, but all withdrawals should be closely monitored. A confused senior may continue to spend money on unneeded items or be taken advantage of by an unscrupulous scammer. 

Has the senior registered for ongoing Medicare, Medicaid. or Social Security benefits?

Is the senior eligible for any government assistance programs? Has the senior applied for ongoing benefits? The senior may be entitled to Medicare, Medicaid, and/or Social Security … to learn more about these plans, please check the following links:



Social Security  

To make matters easier, ensure that all benefits are promptly directly deposited to a senior’s bank account. 

What is the senior’s living arrangement?

A senior may prefer to continue living in his/her own home (or age in place), but an older residence may require renovations/retrofits as well as more maintenance and upkeep. By choosing to downsize and move to a smaller home, many of the related costs will be lessened. Family caregivers need to also determine whether the senior’s home is completely paid off or if any further mortgage payments will be necessary. A senior’s home holds many memories so selling the property can be challenging. In this case, one family member (or more) could be willing to move in and provide upkeep. Alternatively, family caregivers could rent out the home to a responsible tenant (who can provide an ongoing source of income) and keep the home within the family.

Who can provide further financial help?

A financial planner and/or accountant can advise seniors and family caregivers about savings strategies, recommend investments, and explain tax breaks. Choose someone who is knowledgeable, trustworthy, and readily available to meet and/or to answer questions. 

While senior healthcare may not be necessary now and may be the last thing a family member wants to think about, it can become so in the future. And, with further physical and/or medical decline, a senior’s healthcare costs can rise dramatically. By preparing ahead of time, family caregivers and seniors won’t be caught off guard and be left scrambling.

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