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Greatest Mother's Day Gift? Love and Planning


Mother’s Day is around the corner, and for many children, so may be the need to begin planning for how their mother’s health needs will be met as she ages. The greatest gifts children can give their mother are love and advanced planning, yet a new national survey shows that 70 percent of children have not discussed, researched, or saved any money for their aging mother’s care.

The good news that comes out of the new survey, which was conducted by Survey Sampling International and polled 500 people ages 35 to 64, is that 80 percent of respondents say they feel as close to their moms as they used to, even though 43 percent said they lived at least 40 miles away from their mother. Another somewhat surprising finding is that 66 percent of those polled said they would be comfortable having their mothers move into their homes with them.

The survey also showed that women were more likely than men to have had discussions with their mothers about their future health care needs, and that 43 percent said they would rather hire professional in-home caregivers versus having their mother move in with them (28%), move to an assisted living community (25%), or go to a nursing home (4%).

The disturbing survey finding is that nearly three-quarters of respondents had not planned for their mother’s needs as she ages. Thus it appears that despite good intentions and expressions of love, planning and preparation for future health care and living needs by children for their mothers is seriously lacking.

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Although 72 percent of those polled said they did not plan to pay for their mother’s care from their own finances, Peter Ross, founder and CEO of Senior Helpers, a company that provides professional caregivers in the United States and Canada for seniors who want to stay in their homes, warns that “people don’t realize they may have to help pay for their parents’ care because often their parents’ money runs out and Medicare or Medicaid doesn’t cover care at the same level.”

Therefore, while such a discussion with one’s mother may be difficult, Ross says such planning is critical. It “means sitting down with the whole family and discussing a plan now, before mom has a problem and you’re in crisis,” a crisis that could be financially and emotionally devastating to both children and their mothers.

According to the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, the average cost for a private room in a nursing facility for one year is $79,935 ($219 per day), while the average cost for an assisted living arrangement (with meals and nursing care) is $37,572 annually. The cost of having a home health aide visit averages $19 per hour. If the aide visits four hours per day five days a week, the average yearly cost would be $19,760.

Another option is adult day care. According to two surveys conducted by the MetLife Mature Market Institute, the average cost per day (in 2007) was $61.

You can give your mother flowers, chocolates, and a wonderful dinner for Mother’s Day, but perhaps the greatest Mother’s Day gift of all is your time, concern, and planning for her future health and well-being. Some organizations that may help you and your family members plan for your mother’s future include the National Care Planning Council, the National Council on Aging, Medicare, and AARP.

American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging
MetLife Mature Market Institute survey
Senior Helpers press release, May 2010