Caring for an elderly parent is challenging in many ways, but here we look at a few of the financial considerations involved.
Our Better At Home Report revealed that nearly 97% of the population would prefer to stay in their own homes as they age, and can’t think of anything worse than moving into a care home. What is even more surprising, is the fact that nearly 100% of us would still avoid care homes even if we were ill or struggling to cope. Basically, anything is better than the thought of moving into a care home to most of us.
97% of the population would prefer to stay in their own home
So, with these figures in mind, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that many children choose to care for an elderly parent in their home, rather than choose the option of residential care. There is, however, a third option, which has been long established but is little known about – home care or live-in care, where the elderly parent is cared for in their own home by a professional carer who lives with them.
Although caring for an elderly relative in any way is admirable and a wonderful thing to do, realistically there are significant financial challenges of caring for a relative, not to mention the impact on the family dynamics.
Let’s take a realistic look at what care actually costs:
Unpaid Care Hours
Most people offer more than a few hours of care for their relative on a daily basis. In some scenarios, a few hours of shopping and running errands, maybe a bit of housework on a Friday is all it takes, nothing too heavy going, just enough to help the person stay mostly independent.
However in many scenarios people are offering support that is much more hands on. Adult children can provide many hours of care each day to an elderly parent, which is why many end up either moving in with their parent or moving their parent in to live with them. The value of that time, is billions of pounds in the UK alone.
So many adult children are providing care to elderly parents, all whilst also juggling things like work, personal lives and their own children. As well as the financial challenges of caring for a parent there are the practical challenges of caring for the elderly – it can be very stressful and can cause strain on the family.
Home alterations are often needed – things like stair lifts, or converting a downstairs room to a shower room. There may also be special equipment needed, as well as ramps that need to be fitted. Modifications like these can cost a lot of money, that said, an elderly person is entitled to have adaptions made to their home if they are deemed essential and this is done free by the NHS and if often conducted by an Occupational Therapist
Having an extra person in the home comes at an extra cost. You have to feed them, they spend much of the daytime at home so there is extra heating throughout, then there’s the extra water and electricity, which all adds up in addition to the family bills you already have.
A person caring for a parent whilst also trying to work, may struggle to commit the same passion, time and enthusiasm to their job that they once could. This is particularly true if the parent is very ill, or if they need help day and night. Employers may be supportive, however they may not be if absence starts become an issue. The cost of losing a job or having to leave a job because of caring has serious financial implications.
Retirement planning may be affected because a person might no longer be able to put money away for their retirement. Financial planning may well end up being put aside and caring prioritised.
These are just a few of the financial challenges of caring for an elderly parent. Many people make the sacrifice of providing care to their loved one, to the detriment of their finances. If you are a carer for your parent, be sure to seek out all available help to lessen the burden, and where possible seek both emotional and practical support so that you’re never on your own in what is a difficult position.
It is important to plan for the different care scenarios that you may wish to consider. Encourage elderly parents to discuss their desired choices with you and look at the options available.