How the Cost of Eldercare Bankrupted
the AARP’s Eldercare Expert

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Are you under the stress of having to care for aging loved ones? The financial strain of paying for the long-term care of elderly loved ones is something millions of Americans have become all too familiar with. Even individuals you may never expect to struggle with such issues are feeling the same pain. In this article, you’ll learn that struggling under the burden of paying for long-term care is something that even the experts face. 

Eldercare is Expensive for Everyone

The AARP’s resident eldercare expert, Amy Goyer, ended up filing for bankruptcy protection in 2019 after years of providing for the long-term care of both of her parents. Despite working as AARP’s authority on all things family and caregiving — including authoring two books on the subject — Goyer ended up being crushed by the weight of her parents’ long-term care costs.

Goyer had spent over 10 years caring for her mother (after a stroke) and father (who suffered from Alzheimer’s) and slowly watched her savings drain away as her personal debt grew. She quickly learned what the nation’s estimated 53 million unpaid caregivers already know — the expense of paying for long-term elder care is massive and, in many cases, financially debilitating.

Family Caregivers Often Bear the Burden

The aging loved ones of the above-mentioned 53 million caregivers (who are usually family members) benefit from not only the close relationship and compassionate care but also an estimated $470 billion of long-term care for which they do not have to personally bear the financial burden.

According to an AARP study, caregivers spend an average of 26% of their personal incomes on such care, including:

  • Housing to accommodate their loved ones
  • Construction modifications to their own homes
  • Other specialized caregiving expenses

Many of these family caregivers burn through their own personal bank accounts and savings, and some even end up taking out loans to help cover the mounting costs.

When Medicare Doesn’t Have Your Back

Senior woman assessing finances to pay for elder care

One significant factor that many caregivers discover is that Medicare does not cover long-term care costs. There is, unfortunately, a common misconception that Medicare will cover such costs for qualifying elder loved ones. When a loved one ends up needing such care, their family members may be shocked to learn how limited their options are to pay for it.

While there are private long-term care insurance policies available from some providers, the amount of coverage offered can vary wildly depending on specific plans, and the cost of such coverage will just have you back to square one in terms of making ends meet.

The Rising Costs of Eldercare

There are multiple reasons why we continue to see the costs of eldercare rising so rapidly. A virtual “perfect storm” that combines the increasing number of Americans who are living well into their retirement years with other factors like more expensive specialized medical care and the growing cost of hiring elder care professionals.

For Goyer, her financial provision for her parents started while she lived across the country from them but later expanded to include full-time professional help in their home and, eventually, 24-hour care for them in Goyer’s own home.

As her parents’ savings disappeared and her own bills began to pile up, Goyer turned to credit cards to help pay for the costs. With her father’s care alone reaching $10,000 per month in his final years, Goyer’s credit card debt reached $120,000 by 2018. In the end, the financial hole proved to be far too deep for her to dig her way out on her own, resulting in her filing for bankruptcy.

Though Amy Goyer’s story is more high-profile because of her position and her own choice to go public with it to help others understand the state of eldercare costs, it is not by any means a unique situation. Tens of millions of Americans who serve — or will serve — as caregivers for their older loved ones will find themselves in similar circumstances.

This is where receiving guidance and assistance from our team at 1on1Eldercare comes in. Our mission is to provide knowledgeable advice to elderly individuals and their families as they make preparations for long-term care. If you are looking for help regarding how to pay for long-term eldercare in the greater Southern California area, reach out to us today.