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Baby boomer parents may rely heavily on children in divorce

As the vanguard of the baby boomer generation reaches retirement age, many issues that were not significant concerns at earlier ages may now increase in importance. For example, boomers in New York will want to look at the increasing costs of medical care, which can impair their retirement savings and assets if they experience a serious illness or injury. This discussion gains further importance in the context of divorce, which can drastically affect how boomers will be able to cover medical costs.

Long-term care can be particularly taxing. According to a MetLife survey, the average cost for a private room at a nursing home is over $87,000 per year. If a person needs the assistance of a home health aide, that can run over $21,000 annually.

While married couples can share costs and help each other with medical issues that arise in later years, those who are divorced can face greater financial challenges. Insurance for long-term care and other end-of-life assistance can help offset some healthcare costs, but the expense of this assistance increases as the recipient ages. Reverse mortgages and other options available to the elderly can also help defray these costs, but come with their own set of pitfalls.

In many instances, the children of divorced boomer parents may be asked to step in and provide assistance. It is important for divorcing boomers and their families to understand their financial needs and plan for them as they age. Financial challenges can be met if addressed in advance, including discussions at the divorce table.

Source: Reuters, "Double the trouble when divorced parents get old," Chris Taylor, Oct. 22, 2012

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