Caring for an aging parent or friend can be expensive. But when you know that someone needs assistance, it's hard to avoid offering to help. While there's nothing wrong with providing a relative or confidant with financial support, you don't want to lose sight of your own financial goals. Here are five strategies that you can implement to keep senior care costs low.
Find out now: How much life insurance do I need?
1. Invest in Long-Term Care Insurance
As an extension of health, disability and life insurance, long-term care insurance provides coverage for nursing home care, home health care and other services that meet the daily needs of elderly individuals. While long-term care insurance isn't cheap, purchasing it may be worth it if your older family member or friend can't qualify for Medicare and doesn't have enough savings.
It's best (and more affordable) to sign up for long-term care insurance before chronic or debilitating conditions surface. Just be sure to read the fine print and compare benefit options before picking a policy for you or your loved one.
2. Make Your House Home-Care Ready
Installing a walk-in shower or stair lift when you're healthy may seem crazy. But making your home more accessible may pay off, especially if it eliminates the need for you to move to a special facility when you grow older.
Some states and nonprofits offer loans and grants to help low-income elderly individuals make modifications to their homes. So that's something to consider if you need help covering the cost of your renovations.
Related Article: Do Wealthy Investors Need Long-Term Care Insurance?
RELATED: 10 ways to rescue your retirement:
3. Look Into Government Programs
The federal government offers some programs that make senior expenses less expensive. For example, your loved ones can apply for traditional Medicare. If they need help covering additional costs, they can consider enrolling in a Medicare Advantage or Medigap plan.
Depending on your loved one's situation, they may be eligible for Medicaid. They'll have to meet certain financial qualifications. But if they qualify, Medicaid coverage can lower the cost of their healthcare.
4. Compare Care Options
If you need a professional to help care for your elderly relative, you may need to look beyond nursing homes and assisted living facilities. It's a good idea to take the time to visit different adult care facilities and meet with independent caregivers, home care agencies and home health aides. That way, you can compare a range of costs and services.
Even if you have elderly family members who can live alone, they may need companionship. If you have a busy schedule, you may be able to find a virtual caregiver online who can support your older loved one.
Related Article: 4 Financial Emergencies That Could Derail Your Retirement
5. Claim as Many Tax Breaks as Possible
If you choose to take care of an aging parent or relative on your own, you'll need to make sure you're financially prepared to assume that responsibility. Fortunately, there are tax breaks for individuals who serve as caregivers. For example, you may qualify for the Child and Dependent Care Credit.
Caring for an older family member can place a big strain on your budget. That's why it's important to make the most of any resources and programs that can lower the cost of senior care.
If you're concerned about your ability to cover your own healthcare costs in the future, you'll need to make saving for retirement a priority. And it doesn't hurt to make an effort to stay healthy to reduce your chances of contracting a serious illness or disease.
Photo credit: ©iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages, ©iStock.com/phillipspears, ©iStock.com/adamkaz