By Lee Sherman
No one wants to think about losing their independence, but planning ahead can mean more time for you or a loved to be at home rather than in a nursing home. For many families, it’s only a matter of time before you have to consider what to do when a senior’s physical or mental health has reached a point where they need additional care. If you’ve decided to care for your elderly parent at home, you’ll need to understand how this affects your finances.
More than 56 million Americans suffer from a disability that impacts their daily activities, according to a report issued by the US Census Bureau in 2010. 50 percent of adults 65 or older have such a disability. They may have suffered a stroke, a heart attack, or suffer from arthritis. Many also succumb to dementia. Depending on how active your parent is, you may need to consider the cost of a full-time caretaker or someone to come in a few times a week to help with your parent’s hygiene, meals, or just to provide companionship. Adding a live-in person to your household isn’t cheap. This might cost you a few hundred dollars a week and could go higher depending on whether they are a registered nurse or experienced caregiver. While having an aging parent live with you means you won’t need to worry about paying their rent, you will have to account for another mouth at the table. Keep in mind that cost of either home-care or assisted living isn’t covered by either Medicaid or Medicare so you will bear the cost yourself.
If your aging parent has limited mobility, you may need to retro-fit your home in order to make it more accessible to accommodate their disabilities. This might mean installing such things as ramps, railings, and carpets. Handymen estimate that railings can be installed for as little as $100-300, depending on the amount, including labor and materials. Ramps can run anywhere from $1,000-$15,000. If you plan on aging in place yourself, these could become permanent fixtures that help you later in life as well so they’ll retain their value.
Remodeling other rooms in your house will also add to the resale value, while at the same time facilitate your aging parent’s needs. Let’s start with the kitchen. Those high shelves may not be so easy for your parent to reach. Remodeling your kitchen to accommodate lower shelves, cabinets that can be pulled out, and a touch faucet so that the arthritis afflicted don’t have to turn knobs will run you around $2,500. A bathroom remodel to make it wheelchair accessible, and that includes a walk-in shower and grab bars for the shower and toilet will cost about $20,000. While these home improvements may seem expensive, they are nothing compared to the hospital costs you’ll incur should your parent trip and fall and a far cry from the $10,000 or so a month it will cost to put them in assisted living.
Lee Sherman is a contributing writer to MyPerfectFinancialAdvisor, the premier matchmaker between investors and advisors. Lee is an experienced journalist and editor with over 30 years of expertise with a significant history of writing in the personal finance and technology arenas.