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I’ve met people who have told me that they have promised their parents that they wouldn’t put them into a nursing home. But that doesn’t mean that the children are then stuck caring for their parents at home. And by stuck, I do mean stuck. Even if the parent doesn’t move into the child’s home, the child is still responsible for making sure that everything is going smoothly.

Let’s consider the example of Bill and Sally Jones. Both Bill and Sally work, earning a combined salary of nearly $150,000 per year. They live a relatively quiet lifestyle, but they do enjoy traveling and taking vacations together. Bill’s mother has been quite ill and has been advised by her doctor that she needs full-time care. Many years ago, Bill, an only child, promised his mother that he would never put her in a nursing home, a promise that Bill intends to keep. Since his mother needs full-time care and is unable to do some things on her own, Bill and Sally decide that she will move in with them.

Bill’s mother doesn’t have a lot of assets, nor does she have any type of long-term care insurance. Bill and Sally sell her home and use the proceeds to help pay for her care. After a couple of months, they decide that Sally should quit her job so that she can take care of Bill’s mother. Their combined income drops from $150,000 per year to $90,000 per year. Taking care of Bill’s mother has become a full-time job for both Sally and Bill. Not only has their income dropped, they are no longer able to do the things they enjoy, like traveling. Since they are Bill’s mother’s primary care givers, there is no one else to take care of her if they decide they want to go somewhere. So, they don’t go.

Obviously, this is a worst-case scenario against the family care option. But, there are other things to consider, as well. Is your family member able to care for you? I don’t mean just financially, but phys- ically. If you were unable to walk, would they be strong enough to lift you into a wheelchair or bathtub? These are very important things to consider. If your family members are unable, or unwilling, to per- form physical tasks, then they won’t be able to take care of you.

The third thing to think about is the emotional toll it will take on both you and the people taking care of you. Taking care of a loved one, especially a parent, is a very emotionally tough prospect. For so many years, the parent has taken care of the child and now the child is being called upon to take care of the parent as the parent’s health increasingly deteriorates. For the parent, the stress is equally harsh.

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