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Does it cost more to care for elderly parents than children?

Many parents who devoted a good portion of their lives to raising their children often find themselves in need of care as they approach their twilight years. Many turn to the offspring they cared for to help them.

Both phases of life require not only a significant personal commitment, but also a sizeable financial investment.

The Rising Costs Of Caring For An Elderly Loved One

According to a recent federal government report, families spend more caring for aging parents than raising children. The out-of-pocket costs to raise children are approximately $234,000. Attending to the long-term care needs of older adults is around $140,000.

Considering the typical number of years to care for a child from birth to age 18 versus an elderly loved one (typically four years), the costs of senior care by family members is significantly higher. That total does not account for loved ones over 65 and parents suffering from chronic illnesses.

Limited Programs To Minimize Financial Burdens

Federal and state governments provide a wide range of financial assistance programs and free services for parents raising children. However, services for the older population needing long-term support are limited at best. Few options exist beyond offerings through the Older Americans Act that range from information services to Meals on Wheels.

Tax deductions can offset costs for senior medical expenses. Yet, the total for one year must exceed 10 percent of a family’s income, minimizing any financial benefit for most. In fact, more tax credits and other assistance exist for low and middle-income families raising sons and daughters.

Estate Planning Strategies Can Offset Expenses

For families of seniors, relying on government programs is far too risky. Proactive estate planning by an elderly loved one can go a long way to offset financial burdens that come with caring for their future needs. Sound strategies can minimize the stress and the physical, emotional and financial toll.