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Military families unprepared for high cost of elderly care

August 29, 2019

First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals that career service members are spending an average of $2,429 per month on care for elderly family members

FORT WORTH, Texas – Career military families who commit to caring for a parent or elderly family member are often unprepared for the high costs, prompting many of them to seek help from a financial advisor, according to the First Command Financial Behaviors Index®.

First Command’s annual elder care spending survey reveals that 55 percent of middle-class military families (commissioned officers and senior NCOs in pay grades E-5 and above with household incomes of at least $50,000) who are currently providing elder care indicate that the cost is more than they expected. And 66 percent of these families say elder care expenses represent a severe financial concern for their household.

The costs of providing elder care can place a sizeable burden on a typical household budget. The 32 percent of survey respondents who are currently caring for an elderly family member estimate their average monthly outlay at $2,429, the highest amount since 2012 when the elder care survey was launched.

Where does the money go? Survey respondents say they currently or expect to pay for elder care through:

  • home care services (23 percent)
  • nursing homes (10 percent)
  • health care services (10 percent)

Notably, First Command’s elder care research program shows that military families report providing elder care at roughly twice the rate of their civilian counterparts. That makes it an especially important issue for financial professionals who serve military families, said Scott Spiker, chairman and chief executive officer of First Command Financial Services, Inc.

“Taking care of an elderly family member can feel like a daunting responsibility, but there is no reason for families to go it alone,” he said. “Many military families are seeking out professional help. The Index reveals that out of all military families who are planning for elder care costs, 43 percent are doing so with the help of a financial advisor. That’s up from 25 percent in 2012. Seeking out a knowledgeable financial coach is a smart way to deal with the added fiscal responsibility of caring for an older family member. We believe that caregiver families who work with financial advisors are better prepared to deal with the realities of this type of care.”

About the First Command Financial Behaviors Index®

Compiled by Sentient Decision Science, Inc., the First Command Financial Behaviors Index® assesses trends among the American public’s financial behaviors, attitudes and intentions through a monthly survey of approximately 530 U.S. consumers aged 25 to 70 with annual household incomes of at least $50,000. Results are reported quarterly. The margin of error is +/- 4.3 percent with a 95 percent level of confidence.

About Sentient Decision Science, Inc.

Sentient Decision Science was commissioned by First Command to compile the Financial Behaviors Index®. SDS is a behavioral science and consumer psychology consulting firm with special vertical expertise within the financial services industry. SDS specializes in advanced research methods and statistical analysis of behavioral and attitudinal data.

About First Command

First Command Financial Services and its subsidiaries, including First Command Financial Planning and First Command Bank, coach our Nation’s military families in their pursuit of financial security. Since 1958, First Command Financial Advisors have been shaping positive financial behaviors through face-to-face coaching with hundreds of thousands of client families.

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