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Emotions can run high when the topic of conversation turns to the care of an elderly loved one.   In my life, the care of my grandmother is the center of our family discussion.  The conversation generally relates to one of the following questions: How are we going to take care of her? Who will volunteer his or her time? When am I going to be asked to help? What am I supposed to do? Why am I always the back-up person?

These are real questions that families must answer while managing relatives’ failing health, living arrangements and financial obligations.  These issues and a host of unforeseen circumstances can devastate a family’s wealth and strain the relationships within the family.  As an increasing number of clients shared their challenges in covering the care of aging relatives, I decided to  incorporate long term care insurance in my financial analysis.

Long term care is an insurance policy designed to alleviate some of the costs associated with nursing home and home health care for individuals unable to care for themselves.  Most policies provide coverage for a specified number of years, though some offer lifetime coverage.  Policy premiums vary widely depending upon the age of the insured, conditions and services covered, length of coverage and location.  A great website to review costs in your area is genworthfinancial.com.

In addition to determining how to finance coverage, families must decide what type of care their relative needs.  Adult day care facilities, similar to children’s day care centers, are a viable option for individuals capable of routine travel.   Assisted living facilities allow residents regular access to medical attention, prepared meals and organized activities, while maintaining much of their autonomy.  Individuals who decide to care for his relative himself may realize some tax benefits and should consult a tax advisor when weighing this option.

To learn more about elder care options in your community visit eldercare.gov.  For assistance with a broad range of issues, one should consider contacting a lawyer specializing in elder care. In the meantime, review your financial situation.  Can you afford to start putting some extra money aside now for yourself or for the needs of a parent?

Aaron W. Smith is the author of  “In The Black: Live, Faithfully, Prosper Financially The Ultimate 9 steps for Financial Freedom.”  Visit him atawsmithfinancial.com and intheblackretirement.com for more information.

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