All in the Family

As more GenXers care for aging parents, creative planning can help beat high costs

Know how to make finances last.
Elder care costs can mount in a hurry. “Many people are under the mistaken impression that Medicare will foot the bill—it will to a very limited degree for care as a result of a medical procedure, but if you’re depending on it for the long haul, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise,” Myers warns.

A talk with a financial planner can help you and your parents stretch dollars. You’ll need to know what are the best and most tax-efficient ways to draw on accounts and how to ensure that money earmarked for care is not only liquid but also earning the highest return. For parents whose homes are paid off, options such as a reverse mortgage may help (see for more information on reverse mortgages). Finally, a good planner will know about tax breaks offered to seniors who use home healthcare products and supplies.

Learning Your Lessons.
The process of helping an elderly parent should function as your own wake-up call. Myers says considering long-term care insurance is one way to make sure that you’re not a burden to your own children. Long-term care insurance can be expensive, but it’s affordable if you obtain a policy in your 30s or 40s. Go to to find your state’s insurance department, which provides a listing of companies that sell policies.


1. The National Caucus and Center on Black Aged is an advocacy group that offers programs to assist Afriacn American seniors

2. National Resource Center for Safe Aging has links to state and regional aging agencies.

3. The National Institute on Aging offers a clearinghouse of free publications including Getting Your Affairs in Order, a guide to financial medical documents.

4. The nonprofit organization H.E.L.P. offers helpful guidance on legal and financial issues for the elderly.

5. National Academy of Elder Care Law Attorneys can direct you to local lawyers who specialize in care issues.

This article originally appeared in the September 2009 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.

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