My mother lived with me for the last five years of her life. We closed in our garage and created an accessible, comfortable living space for her. I worked, and her health needs necessitated 24-hour care. She carried no debt on her home; she had money set aside for retirement, and she owned a long-term care policy. However, the out-of-pocket cost just for her caregivers was about $2,700 per week, and we sold her home to help cover the expense. Her funds were depleted enough that she qualified for Medicaid the month before she passed. After we paid all her final expenses, $10,000 remained, Her home, her retirement income, and her long-term-care policy were consumed just to pay for five years of care.
I speak to people daily about developing a plan for their retirement that has built-in flexibility. I share my experiences of caring for both my parents and now my in-laws. I talk about how quickly life changes. My husband Lee suffered a stroke at age 51; our lives changed drastically that day. I know well the emotional and financial toll of health-challenged and caring for aging parents.
If you had to care for your aging parents and your spouse had health challenges, could you endure the financial hit? Do you have a plan in place with built-in flexibility? Having no plan is a plan; it is a plan to possibly lose what you have worked hard for. It is a plan to be financially wiped out and need others or the government to provide for you. Could you pay your bills if your only income was Social Security disability? Is that the position you desire?
Even with all the stress and hard work, I’m thankful I could care for my husband and witness his miraculous recovery. I am thankful that my in-laws now live with us and that we can help care for them. I am thankful my father-in-law planned financially for his retirement years.
Remember that it is never too late to start planning until it is too late.