In the last year I have personally spent more than $2000 in travel expenses to help my aging aunt when her dad, my paternal grandfather was admitted into the hospital to die, and then out-of-state, to give my aging mother relief when her father, my maternal grandfather was on his deathbed.
Both my mother and my aunt had spent the last 10 years of their lives caring for their parents. Both of them had to enter early retirement, exhausted their life savings, and had loss of their own ability to enjoy life due to demanding trips to-and-from doctor’s appointments, hospitals, etc.
During tax season last year, my mother who was suddenly on a fixed income was shocked that she would have to pay self-employment tax on money that she had been reimbursed for expenses that she had paid for. It surprised her. And, it surprised me!
What she needed was financial relief, not more debt or an added expense. It’s tough a person is nearing their 70th year and having to be the caregiver of a parent 24-hours a day, 7-days a week without relief.
A recent news report on how several states are seeking to create a new tax break of $5000/dollars to help defer the expenses related to caring for a family member at home. In my opinion, this isn’t enough, but it’s a start. As much as I appreciate the focus and attention given to caring for child care costs for working parents, the key word here is that parents are working.
Many caregivers of the elderly are unable to work. They don’t qualify for other forms of assistance, and this creates a middle-class person to suddenly become a low-income person in a matter of a few years, if not months because they can’t afford to put a parent in a nursing home or assisted living facility. And, they also have no other options than to provide all care for themselves.
It’s not a conversation that we see happening, and it’s one that I wish the Boomers and others would take on strongly because it’s important and relevant and hopefully, significant enough to warrant healthcare reform which is needed, badly.