Planning Ahead: The Costs of Caregiving

As you work toward your professional goals in the New Year, it’s easy to focus on the here-and-now and the “me-me-me”. Yet as the baby boomers age and changes hit government programs and insurance plans, it pays to prepare for the future of your relatives and yourself.

A study by Northwestern Mutual showed that 18 percent of Americans have provided or are currently providing long-term care for a family member or friend, but 41 percent of all surveyed are unsure of how to handle long-term care or do not plan to address potential needs.

Yet young adults have perspective: Eighteen to 34 year olds were most likely to be saving for future long-term care needs, 36 percent, and less likely to expect to insurance to cover costs than those over age 55 – perhaps an effect of seeing parents’ plans and pensions fall victim to the recession.

Women are also more aware of the lifestyle and financial changes from a long-term care event than men, 30 percent compared to 25 percent, but are also more likely to be unsure of how to address their own long-term care needs.

How can working women combat this?

Sit down with your HR rep and discuss how you’re building your nest egg and figure out a plan for stepping it up. Northwestern Mutual’s Long-Term Care Cost Calculator is a great starting point.

Also, consider talking with your family about their own plans. It’s a difficult conversation, but it can save heartache in a real crisis situation.

Don’t forget about the non-financial effects, either.

Fifty-nine percent of caregivers cited increased levels of stress, 42 percent described their roles as physically demanding, and 34 percent reported less time with family and friends.

Whether you’re joining these ranks of caregivers or just charting out your financial future, make sure you keep up with your own emotional and physical health, whether it’s that weekly yoga class or wine date wind-down with friends.

By Alison Loughman


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