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caregiving costs - NY Times
Old 11-23-2007, 11:55 AM   #1
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caregiving costs - NY Times

Did anyone else see this?

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/19/us...=1&oref=slogin

"The out-of-pocket cost of caring for an aging parent or spouse averages about $5,500 a year" and "the average cost of providing long-distance care [is] $8,728 a year."

It's the first time I've come across real numbers for how much people are spending on this kind of help.
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Old 11-23-2007, 12:45 PM   #2
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That was a good read. Thanks for posting it WM.

The amounts of money being spent were no surprise to me, in fact I expected them to be higher. But the reminder of the personal sacrifices of caregivers of their time, energy, and the emotional drain involved, is a reinforcer that our RE budget which does not call for reduced spending in later years is the right thing for us to do.
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Old 11-24-2007, 11:32 PM   #3
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Barely Getting By and Facing a Cold Maine Winter - New York Times

This one shows some low income elderly in Maine if you had one of these for a parent you would want to send them some money. It will be a cold winter.
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Old 11-24-2007, 11:37 PM   #4
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Barely Getting By and Facing a Cold Maine Winter - New York Times

This one shows some low income elderly in Maine if you had one of these for a parent you would want to send them some money. It will be a cold winter.
Yep. Sad. These stories are the reason I waited so darn long to RE and why our plan is quite conservative. There is no way I ever want to look DW in the face and tell her we can't afford to turn up the furnace to a temperature where we're comfortable. This story is what having your portfolio fail in Firecalc is all about.......
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Old 11-25-2007, 06:14 AM   #5
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Yep. Sad. These stories are the reason I waited so darn long to RE and why our plan is quite conservative. There is no way I ever want to look DW in the face and tell her we can't afford to turn up the furnace to a temperature where we're comfortable. This story is what having your portfolio fail in Firecalc is all about.......
What you don't realize is that it won't ever happen to you. That's because you are planning for the possibility. My personal experience is that the ones "in trouble" went through life pretty clueless and somehow expected everything to work out. They figured they'd always be able to get another j*b. Their health would never fail.

DW and I are "caregiving" to my FIL now but he's in an assisted living facility with Alzheimer's. A couple of years ago (pre-diagnosis) we were both going crazy dealing with his problems and fighting him every step of the way. We thought my MIL was the problem but she was easy to get into a nursing home. The problem was my FIL wanting to set up in home care for her with money he didn't have, forgetting to pay his bills or refusing to pay the ones he thought were "too much."

DW ended up being with him almost 7 days a week. DW left her j*b which I originally thought would delay my ER; but as it turns out, having to stay put makes me consider ER not worth it until he passes on.

So, caregiving in our case costs about $40,000 per year which is her old pay plus the extra running around she still does with her father. My advice is that if a "facility" is in the financial picture it is the best option for both the child and the parent.
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Old 11-25-2007, 10:43 AM   #6
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Mom made me promise her two things: no nursing homes and no life support. Later, Mom developed Alzheimer's. I was still working when she deteriorated to the point that she could no longer live alone. Fortunately, Mom's younger sister (her DH died years before and her children lived a good distance away) was willing to provide 24/7 care for her. Mom forgot who I was 3 years into the disease, and muddled through another 7 years until a stroke ended her life.

We worked out a budget, including room and board, medical supplies, and an allowance for hiring a person to sit with Mom so Aunt could get away for church, shopping, etc. I paid the difference between Mom's retirement income and the $25,000/yr budget. It cost me about $12,000 a year for Aunt to care for Mom and she did a great job. I even paid her for a year after Mom died out of appreciation.

Mom and Dad divorced late in life and I probably spent about $5,000/yr helping Dad during his last few years. One day Dad went out to get the mail and dropped dead of a heart attack. I pray that is the way I go, too.
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Old 11-25-2007, 10:57 AM   #7
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My Mother is relatively healthy for 91 but she has bad arthritis and every year needs more and more care .So far my two sister's and I plus her younger sister have managed to keep things going but I don't know for how long .The best thing I did was hire a health care aide to do the running around and taking my Mom to her Doctor's appointments .It has really helped and the cost is minimal .I am paying about $5,000 towards her care and since I retired I'm able to fly up and take charge for a few weeks at a time .My other sisters live closer so they can do week-end visits when necessary .So far it's working but it's just a band-aid for now .
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Old 11-25-2007, 12:57 PM   #8
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What you don't realize is that it won't ever happen to you.
Well, hopefully not.

Our situation is not an accident. At 55, I was offered a buyout package from Megacorp and my calculations said we would probably be "OK" if I took it and RE. But, I turned chicken after thinking about scenarios as described in the referenced articles and scrambled and found another job withn Megacorp. That job lasted another 3.5 years and ended with another buyout package offer at 58. I took that one.........actually didn't have much choice! At that point, we were better prepared financially.

Because our interests include many activities that require some physical robustness, and those extra 3.5 years took a toll on our ability to be involved in those activities, I've second guessed my decision many times. But, when I'm reminded of the negative consequences of cutting it too close financially, then I'm comfortable I did the right thing.

The foundation for my RE financial plan is being able to self insure for LTC. If/when we require care, I hope my son will be attentive to managing the situation. But it shouldn't cost him any money.
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Old 11-25-2007, 01:10 PM   #9
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Mom made me promise her two things: no nursing homes and no life support. Later, Mom developed Alzheimer's. I was still working when she deteriorated to the point that she could no longer live alone. Fortunately, Mom's younger sister (her DH died years before and her children lived a good distance away) was willing to provide 24/7 care for her. Mom forgot who I was 3 years into the disease, and muddled through another 7 years until a stroke ended her life.
I've seen what my DW was going through trying to manage her father for several months at the end of about 2 years of lots of extra care. There was no way she would have survived for long trying to do what needed to be done. Your mother must have been much more cooperative than my FIL was. He wanted to go and do the same things he had been doing all along. He was still in charge. On top of that, my in-laws no longer could really afford the home they lived in.

Your mother's poor sister ended any chance for a normal life for a full decade of her life. I can't imagine myself wanting my siblings, spouse or children to do that. I've told my wife and kids that if the time comes do what needs to be done.

My in-laws went through a phase just prior to when they actually needed nursing and assisted care of saying repeatedly they didn't want to go to a "home." They wanted to die at home. I'm sure they started to see it coming. Fortunately, DW didn't get forced to promise she'd never do that because, unlike me, she would have felt guilty when it needed to be done.

Of course, her sister that lived thousands of miles away thought we were terrible and heartless moving them out of their home. All they needed was "a little more help." She'd show up for a week about every six months to show that she could do it "so what was wrong with her sister?" I offerred to put them on a plane to her local airport and she could take over. That actually shut her up.
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Old 11-25-2007, 01:16 PM   #10
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Well, hopefully not.

Our situation is not an accident.

The foundation for my RE financial plan is being able to self insure for LTC. If/when we require care, I hope my son will be attentive to managing the situation. But it shouldn't cost him any money.
That's why I doubt it will happen to you. You've planned ahead and consider the possibilities. You are among the less than 10% of the population that truly is prepared for the likely events of a normal aging process.

I am also self-insuring for LTC. I just can't get comfortable with paying monthly payments for decades to an insurance company that may or may not be financially strong enough to actually provide the coverage I had paid for. All of my other relationships with insurance companies are effectively evaluated annually.
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Old 11-25-2007, 03:07 PM   #11
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My mom lost her mother last year just after mom turned 80 her mom was almost 99. Grandma had been a pain to talk into doing the right thing, they put her in assisted living and she beat the caregiver with her cane and bit him so got kicked out. She was 96 living alone depending on a son in law that was 80 and in poor health to take care of her house and shopping. She started to get forgetful and was a great burden on her local daughter and my mom that was hundreds of miles away. She didn't really cost them any money but she took time and effort and caused worry.
Mom gave my brother the right to sign her checks and a power of attorney, I do her tax returns and she has told the three of us if we think she needs to go to assisted living let her know and she will. She can't do all the yard and house work now but instead of asking us to do it she is hiring it done. My youngest brother is retired and we are 58-59-60 now so not at an age where we want to take care of another house. We are lucky two of us are local and some grandchildren are local. I am going to see mom today to play cards. I am grateful she has a couple of hundred thousand in the bank and is willing to attempt to not be a burden.
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Old 11-25-2007, 04:02 PM   #12
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I've seen what my DW was going through trying to manage her father for several months at the end of about 2 years of lots of extra care. There was no way she would have survived for long trying to do what needed to be done. Your mother must have been much more cooperative than my FIL was. He wanted to go and do the same things he had been doing all along. He was still in charge. On top of that, my in-laws no longer could really afford the home they lived in.

Your mother's poor sister ended any chance for a normal life for a full decade of her life. I can't imagine myself wanting my siblings, spouse or children to do that. I've told my wife and kids that if the time comes do what needs to be done.

My in-laws went through a phase just prior to when they actually needed nursing and assisted care of saying repeatedly they didn't want to go to a "home." They wanted to die at home. I'm sure they started to see it coming. Fortunately, DW didn't get forced to promise she'd never do that because, unlike me, she would have felt guilty when it needed to be done.

Of course, her sister that lived thousands of miles away thought we were terrible and heartless moving them out of their home. All they needed was "a little more help." She'd show up for a week about every six months to show that she could do it "so what was wrong with her sister?" I offerred to put them on a plane to her local airport and she could take over. That actually shut her up.
My aunt, aside from being a saint, had a home that was paid for, but had little income...really not enough to get by. She looked after elderly people in exchange for a meager income. She had done this for many years. Mom approached her about looking after her, too. That began the arrangement. When Mom could no longer remember whether she had taken her meds, I approached my aunt about giving up her other duties and just concentrating on Mom. She agreed. Mom did go through what I call the "mean and violent" stages, too. Most of the mean stuff was aimed at me, but my aunt got the violent part. The doctors increased Mom's meds to help and my aunt gradually decreased them because she didn't want Mom to be out of it all of the time. Those really bad times lasted for 2 or 3 years, then Mom's mind went pretty much all together. My aunt and I consulted often and during the bad times we explored nursing homes. My aunt always decided she just didn't want to put Mom in the NH. The last 5 years of Mom's life, my aunt always referred to her as my baby. She was helpless, but sweet.

I knew nothing about AD when Mom started her decline. If I had known more about it, I probably would have put Mom in a NH instead of relying on my aunt. Most of Mom's anger (probably frustration) was aimed at me, not my aunt so my aunt had more cooperation than I did. There never seems to be a happy ending to any AZ story. We did what we could, and I am eternally grateful to my aunt.
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Old 11-26-2007, 07:15 AM   #13
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My widowed mother went into assisted living at 87, protesting all the way. Unfortunately, it had to be done. Neither I nor my siblings were in a position to provide the care she needed, and she was becoming a danger to herself and others, as she was showing increasing signs of senile dementia. The beginning of the end was when one of my nephews borrowed her car and totaled it. We took the opportunity to not replace the car, and move her out of her apartment. She lasted three years in assisted living, and further decline in mental and physical abilities dictated a move to a waiting room nursing home. She is now 98, and has now been there longer than any other resident. (Most people max out at about 5 years in a nursing hime)

My siblings and I have been going to visit once or twice a week for the past 11 years, even now that she really doesn't know who we are, or where she is, or what life is about, is blind and wheelchair bound. This experience has shown me that there ARE things much worse than death, which would certainly be a release for my mother now.

For a while we all went through the guilt stages, but after these many years of dealing with this, we all realize that there was really no other option.

Fortunately, my father purchased a pretty good slug of Exxon stock many years ago, and it has split, split, gone up, split, gone up, etc. This is what allows us to keep her in this facility, and to do it for so long without seriously damaging the retirement prospects of me and my sisters. As grim as all this is, it would be much worse without this financial windfall.....
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Old 11-26-2007, 10:08 AM   #14
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similar to 2b's dw but more subtle than (certainly cash out of pocket or) leaving a job outright, a caregiving cost to me came at the price of forgoing career advancement which would have required moving out of state. instead i stopped at the highest level available in my locale and remained here to help mom continue to live her life as normal as possible for as long as possible.

this was done in coordination with my mom's wishes and counsel of our family friend/shrink, starting about 5 or 6 years before my brother became involved. another cost to me was gaining reputation as schlep of the family, even before i quit working. such was the price of keeping mom's secret for as long as we could. i do not regret it for a moment even though reputations are hard to shake and especially since this one was reinforced with my eventual decision to quick working altogether.

it would have been nice to have that money now (oddly, just the missing career advancement money, not the money missing from not working), especially since--what with the bubble--inheritance did not pan out as projected. but even had i known this different outcome, i'm certain i would have made the very same decisions in regard to my caregiving costs. it was sad but an honor at any cost to care well for mom.
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Old 11-26-2007, 06:07 PM   #15
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lazy is the ultimate mensch. He picked up caring for his mother for years and as I have said is a fate worse than death. I've never found a 50-something that has ever told me that if they get Alzheimer's or a serious physically limiting condition that they want their childred/grandchildren to dedicate the next 10 to 20 years of their lives to "keeping them in their home." That only makes me more certain that the "I don't wan't to go to a home" is an early sign of mental limitation.
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Old 11-26-2007, 08:05 PM   #16
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That only makes me more certain that the "I don't wan't to go to a home" is an early sign of mental limitation.
Well......maybe. Or perhaps you're painting with too broad a brush due to your deep involvement in your current personal situation.

My situation with my dad turned out very, very differently. I wanted him to look at nursing home living, he didn't. He sat me down and helped me understand that it was going to be very tough on me, but that he wanted to stay independent longer and was accepting the risks involved with living independently at an adavanced age. So, I allowed it.

He went on for seven years, complete with girlfriend, new car, and a fun attitude. He was slipping mentally and physically. I did some work in the background to keep him from making any big mistakes. In the end, his "friend" found him dead on the kitchen floor, dressed in his "party clothes" when he failed to show up to pick her up for a date. He was 83.

I'm sure he would have lasted longer in a nursing home facility. But, it was his choice and he was partying to the last minute.

I truly understand your deep emotional involvement with your current predicament. But perhaps that's leading you to generalize your situation and outcome to everyone. In reality, each situation may be different.

I'm sure I could have bought my dad some extra time by locking him up out of harms way. And it surely would have saved me some worry! But today, I'm glad I let him do it his way. He was a tough guy, a heavy equipment operator, a gun-toting union organizer, a sportsman, a war hero. Watching him try to operate in his old ways as a fumbling geezer was tough, very, very tough on me.

Every situation is different even though, right now, you feel you and your DW's situation and outcome would apply to all. Maybe not 100%

My hat is certainly off to you both for the sacrifices you're making.
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Old 11-27-2007, 10:11 AM   #17
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It was interesting to read all of the above experiences. I am not in this type of situation yet, but I am very afraid that one day I will be. It is becomming increasingly obvious that my folks did not plan for retirement very well at all. They are part of the generation that does not believe in talking over finances with their children at all, so I do not really know how bad it is. Then again, I have started to ask some key questions to which my father especially seems to have no answers. So if retirement is less than 4 years away (so he says) and you do not know what a 401k catchup contribution is for example... I would say they are probably in serious trouble. I have been warning the both of them for years, and it is the source of a lot of conflict between us. When the housing market was at it's height two years ago, I told them they should sell. They have a 3000+ Sqft house just for the two of them. The house has stairs and they are already getting arthritus. Both of them are pretty much "at war with reality" and will not do anything different than they are right now. I gave my father a book on retirement, and that is about the best I can do. It makes me very angry that one day I may have to try to "clean up the mess" that they are making now... and have been for the last 20 years.
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Old 11-28-2007, 07:18 PM   #18
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He went on for seven years, complete with girlfriend, new car, and a fun attitude. He was slipping mentally and physically. I did some work in the background to keep him from making any big mistakes. In the end, his "friend" found him dead on the kitchen floor, dressed in his "party clothes" when he failed to show up to pick her up for a date. He was 83.
You were very lucky. The people I have known with parents wanting to "stay in their home" at all costs usually end up with a serious injury or get swindled. They "stay" in their home and become increasingly isolated with no form of social interaction except the family members sentenced to be their link with the world.

I've seen what life is like in independent living and it's pretty good when mobility becomes an issue. Assisted living is also a much better place to be than stumbling around their old house.

As long as someone can get around safely and manage their own life, they should have the right to decide how they will live. When someone is unsafe to drive and can't balance a checkbook, it's time to pull the plug. That's when the child becomes the parent.

Personally, I want to be shot by a jealous husband when I'm climbing out of a bedroom window at the age of 98. Unfortunately, that's not statistically likely.
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Old 11-28-2007, 07:22 PM   #19
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It was interesting to read all of the above experiences. I am not in this type of situation yet, but I am very afraid that one day I will be. It is becomming increasingly obvious that my folks did not plan for retirement very well at all.
Unfortunately, I suspect they are dead broke. Get ready for the train wreck. Do start diving into their finances. My in-laws answer to a cash shortage was to run up the credit cards. My FIL thought the bills were too high so he wasn't paying the minimum payments. The fees and penalties were beyond belief and he was totally oblivious to it all.
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