Eldercare: Taking Care of Aging Parents While Maintaining Financial Security

The good news is that we’re all living longer. The challenging news is that that puts many of us in an emotional and financial squeeze, caught between the needs of our children, our parents, and ourselves. Derrick McDaniel, A.K.A., “Mr. Eldercare 101,” is the author of Eldercare, The Essential Guide To Caring For Your Loved One And Yourself, a consultant and professional speaker.

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BlackEnterprise.com spoke to McDaniel about what we all need to know about the delicate balancing act of providing aging loved ones with the support they need while maintaining financial stability.

BlackEnterprise.com: Where do we begin? Where should we start when it comes to taking care of aging parents without falling into a financial sinkhole?

McDaniel: First, you need to know the facts.

  • 1 in 3 U.S. adults is a caregiver to an elderly loved one.

Caring for an elderly loved one is an activity that’s relevant to all demographics, but is especially prevalent among adults ages 30 to 64, a group traditionally still in the workforce. Eldercare issues cross all racial, cultural, economic, religious, political, geographic, etc. boundaries. It also can impact almost every aspect of your life–finances, career, relationships (personal/professional), health, etc.

  • Eldercare Can Be Very Expensive.

Consult experts and develop strategies in place to pay for the cost of appropriate care (public/private insurance, asset reallocation, family pooling of funds etc.). The average national costs for long-term residential care are: private nursing home room, $96,000; a semi-private assisted living room, $44,500; and home care, $40,000—$80,000 (depending on services).

As we’ve discussed in the past, blacks tend to take on financial responsibility for family at higher rates than other groups. You’ve said that we often try to do this without getting the support we need. Can you elaborate?

Blacks have one of the strongest cultural traditions of caring for their elders. It is very common for black families to co-locate and “take-in” their elders (who are the least likely demographic to opt for nursing homes). Unfortunately, the black community suffers from higher rates of depression prior to becoming caregivers and it intensifies thereafter. Blacks are also historically resistant to seeking professional help for caregiving or depression.

What are some general tips you would give to people contending with eldercare issues?

There are several things that can ease this burden:

Prepare in advance (financially, emotionally, professionally, etc.) if you are likely to become a caregiver.

  • Accept the situation
  • Communicate with family and friends–avoid isolation (usually from frustration)
  • Ask for help (friends, family, employers, etc.) / share the workload
  • Learn, recognize, and treat signs of depression
  • Join support groups (in person or online)
  • Make yourself a priority–it’s OK to admit that you still have needs (exercise, hobbies, date night, etc.)
  • Have a back-up plan if the primary caregiver becomes unavailable

McDaniel also says it’s important to be realistic to elders  and yourself–even on the best days things can and will go wrong–expect it, accept it, and move on.