Cost of caring for an elderly parent

When mommy moves in

You’ll likely spend about $7,000 a year on utilities, food and transportation.


I have a running joke with my kids. I tell them I plan to live with them when I get old. I intend to split my time 60/40. Whoever treats me better gets the break!

Taking an aging parent into your home is no small step and it ain’t cheap either.  According to Consumer Reports, if you care for an aging parent in your home, you’re likely to spend about $7,000 a year more on everything from utilities to food to transportation. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

There will be lost wages and reduced savings if you must do more than just provide a roof and three square meals a day. Doctors appointments, mobility devices and home accessibility renovations all cost money. And then there’s the time off work.

According to statistics, women spend 26.4 hours and men spend 14.5 hours caring for an elderly parent. Along with the lost wages comes significant stress, both financial and personal.

It’s time to do some homework if you’re considering taking mom or dad in. Start by figuring out what it will cost. Will you create a separate space or integrate him or her into your home? Will your parent contribute financially? Are there other members of the family that may contribute financially since you’re assuming the time and space responsibilities?

Know the tax rules so you’re claiming all that you’re entitled to. If you can claim your parent as a dependent, the tax savings can help offset the additional costs.  There is also a caregiver benefit that may help defray costs and loss of income because of the amount of time it takes to look after your parent. And if he or she qualifies for the disability tax credit but doesn’t have the income to claim it, you may be able to use some or all off that as well.

If you have neither the space nor the time to be your parent’s caregiver then you must look to assisted living facilities for help. If your parent requires ongoing medical supervision, a nursing home is the next step.

These decisions aren’t easy to make, but it makes no sense to ruin your home life, put your relationship at risk or alienate your children if force fitting your parents into your life is going to cause all kinds of problems.

Don’t wait until you need an assisted living facility or nursing home to start looking. They can be tough to find. If it means moving your loved one further away from where you live, you’ll have to take into account the cost of increased phone bills, travel and meals away from home when you go to visit.  Consumer Reports thinks that’ll add up to about $392 a month, so work it into your budget.

I’ve had an older parent move in and I can tell you from personal experience it isn’t a walk in the park. You and your partner better lay down some ground rules about how things will be handled once mommy or daddy arrive. Figuring it out as you go doesn’t work and can cause huge resentments.