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Family caregivers sacrifice much financially to take care of mom and dad as they age. Some programs assist family caregivers of older adults who lack long-term care insurance.

Millions identify as family caregivers

Over 70 million of us are family caregivers – not for minor children but for elderly relatives or those with disabilities.

Almost 10 million of us are family caregivers over 50, compromising our own retirement and long-term care in order to take care of a parent, spouse or other disabled relative. More than half care for someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. On average the women among us lose $324,044 in wages, pension and Social Security retirement benefits; the men, $283,716. This is true even though women tend to give more hands-on care and men more financial assistance.1

For the majority of older adults who lack long-term care insurance, family caregiving is one of the only options available. But there is help.

Help for family caregivers

On doctor’s orders for nursing care (by an R.N. or L.V.N.), physical or speech language therapy, this can be received at home together with occupational therapy and help from a nurse’s assistant (C.N.A.). The orders must be renewed every 60 days.

There is Medicaid Consumer Directed Personal Assistance. 718-989-9768

There is a Medicaid cash and counseling program. 800-677-1116

There are Veteran’s Benefits (VD-HCBS) and Cash and Counseling for Vets (also called Vet Independent Plus Program or Vet Directed Home Services.) 1-877-222-VETS x 8387

There is also a National Resource Center for Participant-Directed Services.

But often this is not enough.

It is not enough to compensate the caregivers, even though the VA allowed family caregiver agreements. Family members who begin a with a little caregiving often find themselves on a slippery slope as their loved one’s health declines. As the weeks turn into months and the months turn into years, the financial sacrifice – and the implications for the caregiver’s retirement and long-term care and for the grandchildren’s education – become more obvious.

1 The MetLife Study of Caregiving Costs to Caregivers (2018)


Elder law attorney, Terry Garrett, serves on the board of the Texas Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is active in the Texas and Austin Bar Associations. She graduated with honors from Cornell University. She was on the Dean’s List at Wharton Business School. She earned her J.D. at Columbia Law School, receiving the Parker Award and a Mellon Fellowship.

She assists families of people with special needs, people planning for the retirement years and people administering estates.

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