Walk through any nursing home, and your first thought might be: "I need to take care of Mom myself."
Few people want to turn over a loved one to institutional care. No matter how good the nursing home, it may seem cold and impersonal — and very expensive. But making the choice to provide care yourself is fraught with financial risks and personal sacrifices.
Those who become full-time caregivers often look back and wish they had taken the time to better understand the financial position they would be getting themselves into.
"I used to hear about people saying, 'Oh you know, we've got to put our parents in a home; we can't deal with it anymore,' " said Yolanda Hunter, 43, a Maryland resident who is struggling with her decision to drop out of the human resources field to become a full-time caregiver for her grandmother. "And I used to think: 'Oh, how cruel are you?'
"You know, but now? I understand," she said.
Hunter belongs to one of three families being profiled in NPR's eight-week series, Family Matters: The Money Squeeze, which airs each Tuesday on Morning Edition. Each family is struggling with how to afford care for an older generation. The do-it-yourself approach is both common and costly.
Caregiver advocacy groups say Congress needs to be doing more with tax credits and Social Security benefits to help financially support those who choose to care for the elderly.
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the True Cost of At-Home Caregiving