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Money Fix: The cost of caregiving

If parents need help, are you ready? Dealing

If parents need help, are you ready? Dealing with aging parents is not only tough emotionally, but financially, experts say. Credit: iStock

Dealing with aging parents is not only tough emotionally, but financially. A report found that nearly half of family caregivers spend more than $5,000 a year on caregiving, and 30 percent spend more than $10,000.

"I've worked with many families on Long Island that spend more than $10,000 per month on caregiving costs and much more if nursing home care is required," says elder law attorney Ronald Fatoullah of Ronald Fatoullah & Associates in Great Neck.

Your parents may need help. Are you ready?

Communicate: "Talk to your parents. Do they have a plan for paying long-term care expenses? It could be as simple as purchasing long-term care insurance or devising a Medicaid plan," Fatoullah says.

Devise a strategy: A PNC Financial Services Group survey found that 30 percent of pre-retirees who anticipate caring for a loved one plan to work longer to afford such care.

Build a cash reserve: While Matthew Mandell, a certified financial planner with Mandell, White & Associates in Melville, doesn't recommend tapping retirement funds, if necessary, Roth IRA contributions can be withdrawn tax and penalty free.

Unearth all possibilities: "If your mom is a widow and dad was in the military, even long ago, your mom may be eligible for veteran's benefits," says M. Bryan Freeman, founder of Habersham Funding in Atlanta.

Know that if a nursing home is required, Medicaid will look back five years to see if any gifts were made to reduce assets to become Medicaid eligible. Those gifts can trigger a waiting period before Medicaid would pay for nursing home care, cautions Fatoullah.

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