Cost Of Elderly Care Challenging Military Families
Half of middle-class servicemembers who care for an elderly family member say costs are higher than they expected, according to a First Command report.
Editor's note: The following analysis comes from a First Command Financial Behaviors Index release.
At a time when men and women in uniform are dealing with the twin uncertainties of a global economic turmoil and defense downsizing, many military households are facing an extra financial challenge: caring for an elderly family member.
The First Command Financial Behaviors Index reveals that 36 percent of middle-class military families (senior NCOs and commissioned officers in pay grades E-6 and above with household incomes of at least $50,000) either care for or anticipate caring for a parent or other elderly family member. This compares to just 22 percent of the general population of middle-class families.
The Index reveals that military families envision elderly care in a variety of forms. Many survey respondents are focused on in-home care (44 percent in their own home and 40 percent in the home of the elderly family member). The Index indicates that military families also recognize the need to pay for professional assistance, including:
- Home care services (30 percent)
- Health care services (11 percent)
- Nursing home care (10 percent)
Notably, the prospect of providing elderly care is shaking the long-term financial confidence of these current and future caregivers. The Index reveals 31 percent are not confident in their ability to retire comfortably. (Retirement confidence is stronger among the rest of middle-class servicemembers; just 22 percent say they are not confident.)
This crisis in confidence comes at a time when many military families appear ill-equipped to deal with the financial demands of elderly care. Among those already caring for an aged relative, more than half say the cost of care is more than they expected. The Index reveals that just 16 percent of them have done any specific financial planning related to the cost of this care. And among this group, only one in four have turned to a financial advisor for help.
“As the ranks of older Americans continue to swell, many military families are not prepared for the economic reality of ensuring elderly care for their own family members,” said Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command. “These findings underscore the importance of providing meaningful financial planning support to our men and women in uniform as they prepare for the future care of their loved ones.”