According to a 2013 report from the Congressional Budget Office, family caregivers spend approximately $3 billion of their own money on long-term care costs for a family member. However, that number does not include nursing home or other care institution costs. On top of just the monetary cost of being a family caregiver, the emotional cost burdens not only the caregiver herself but the family members (spouses and children) that are helping and coping with the stress of being part of the family care giving process.
In short, elder care can quickly become a drain on retirement and other savings. If you are a primary caregiver or have a loved one who requires long-term care, you can proactively start to save money in several ways.
4 Ways to Cut Costs on Long-Term Care
1. Look to tax deductions. Certain elder care costs may qualify for medical-expense deductions, such as making home improvements under a doctor’s orders (e.g. adding a wheelchair ramp, elevator, wheelchair lift, etc.). Consult with a tax attorney to see what types of deductions you may qualify for.
2. Take advantage of Veteran programs. Several Veterans benefits programs may help cover some of the costs for long-term care. Example benefits include the Aid & Attendance Housebound benefit, home health care benefits, and nursing home care benefits. Check with the Department of Veterans Affairs for more information and to see if your loved one qualifies for benefits.
3. Consider home-care help. According to Metlife’s 2012 Market Survey of Long-Term Care Costs, ” the Massachusetts median hourly rate for a licensed home health aide is $25 per hour and $22 per hour for a licensed homemaker. If hiring a caregiver is out of the question, consider becoming one yourself.
4. Long-Term Care Insurance. Long-term care insurance is a policy you can buy and pay-into much like life insurance. As your care needs multiply you can take advantage of this insurance and get up to hundreds of dollars per day in care, depending on the policy you receive. An even bigger benefit of having long-term care insurance is the built-in incentive to use it. Once you start using your policy, you no longer have to pay the monthly premium for that policy. Also, check to see if your home care company can provide direct billing to the long-term care insurance company. Many home care companies operate by billing the client, and then the client is reimbursed by insurance. Some home care companies (including Minute Women, Inc. of Lexington MA) can directly bill the insurance company, so there is no out of pocket expense for the client.
Budgeting for Long-Term Care Costs
Take advantage of tax breaks for family caregivers, and you may even qualify for reimbursement from a loved one’s long-term care insurance policy. Again, consult with tax professionals about any possible tax deductions or to discuss the ramifications from becoming a home care provider. Always looks at the long-term care costs that are associated with caring for someone and pick what is affordable, and right for the person needing care and your family as a whole.