Cost of Caring for Elderly Parents Could Be Next Financial Crisis


A survey conducted by found that although adult children are often responsible for paying for their elderly parent's care, the large majority of caregivers are vastly unprepared. The survey found:

  • 63% of caregivers have no plan as to how they will pay for their parent's care over the next five years.
  • 62% say the cost of caring for a parent has impacted their ability to plan for their own financial future.

"With an estimated 34 million Americans providing care for older family members, the survey's results indicate a financial crisis in the making," says Joe Buckheit, Publisher of, a website and online forum for family caregivers.

"Medicare only covers long-term care for a short time, and only under strict rules. Medigap insurance helps, but does not cover all costs. The burden of paying for long-term care often rests with the family," Buckheit says. "The caregivers' lack of planning is impacting their own financial future."

Long-term care costs are not the only expenses caregivers bear. "Family members responsible for ailing loved ones provide not only hands-on care but often reach into their own pockets to pay for many daily expenses, including groceries, household goods, drugs, medical co-payments and transportation," says Buckheit. "Americans who are already strapped for cash by the rising price of gas and food are unable to afford these additional expenses." The survey found:

  • 34% spend $300 or more per month out of their own pocket for caregiving expenses.
  • 54% have sacrificed spending money on themselves to pay for care of their parents.

Work Issues

Making matters worse, caring for aging parents often impacts adult children at their workplace as well. The survey found:

  • 43% have had to take time off work due to caregiving responsibilities.
  • 48% say they are earning less money at work as a result of caregiving.
  • 25% have been fired or had to quit their job as a result of caregiving.

One survey respondent says, "I am unable to earn the income needed to continue caring for both my parents and my own family. I've not only given up my job, but my dreams, for now. It is very lonely and financially difficult. But I have to do what is right."

Physical and Emotional Toll

Despite potentially making less money and doling out more, more than half of the caregivers surveyed are spending what equates to a full-time work week – 40 hours or more – on caregiving duties, many in addition to their full-time careers outside the home:

  • 53% of caregivers provide care 40 or more hours per week.
  • 37% provide care more than 80 hours per week.
  • 21% say they never get a break from caregiving.
  • 36% get a break of 5 hours or less a week.

The survey indicates that today's caregivers face a triple financial threat: unplanned-for caregiving expenses, less money for their own needs and reduced time in the workplace.

You May Also Like

Free AgingCare Guides

Get the latest care advice and articles delivered to your inbox!


I hate to see statements like "failing to plan" . Like solutions exist for everyone. They don't! How do you "plan" when you can barely get by raising your own children and paying a mortgage and college tuition. How can you pay for your own long term care insurance when you can't afford it for someone else? How does a senior citizen lady who was a stay at home mom and barely brings in $1200 a month on SS live independently, let alone have enough money to pay for a helper or have enough $ to pay for a mortgage because she has used the equity in her house like an ATM?
This is my first time on this site and I'm so glad I found it! My husband and I have been going crazy coping with the care and living expenses of both my parents for years. We had to sell our home and downsize after the financial crisis cut our income nearly half some years ago. My father died 6 years ago and he was, for the most part, a delight to care for in that he never really complained about anything and was easy to be with, and not too demanding but not so with my mother whom I've never really gotten along with and will suck the life put of you if you let her. I don't know what's worse, the financial stress or the stress of caring for a difficult person, but it doesn't really matter after a while 'cause stress is stress no matter where it's coming from. I'm 62 and my mother is 84 and although she has many ailments she's as strong as a ox. I'm sure she has many more years ahead of her. I will either fall apart myself or run out of money, I'm not sure which will come first but we definitely need to make a change. I'm glad there are some resources out there to get financial help for affordable senior housing. That will be my next step to research but my challenge will be to convince my mother that making a move will be for the best, for all concerned. She can throw a tantrum like no one else I've ever seen, including myself. We don't have enough money for assisted living, for her, but if we can find an affordable housing situation in our area we could maybe afford to get some in-home care to help her with chores and running errands. Thank you for this blog, I feel I'm in the right place and among friends, if you will. Maybe now I can get some sleep.
This is something that I hope our politicians will address in the near future.We, as caregivers should also become more active in spreading awareness about this crisis. I want to add that Medicare only covers about 100 days in a nursing facility after a doctor deems the stay necessary. If you're looking at long term care such as: hiring caregiving agencies, residential board and care facilities or assisted living, it's all out-of-pocket. This is the stress that we have and currently there are no easy solutions for. Respite care helps, but it's not enough.

~Rose Broyles