First Command News & Media


First Command Reports: Military families feeling financially stretched by elder care

First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals that middle-class service members are spending an average of $1,342 per month on care for elderly family members

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FORT WORTH, Texas – Elder care costs are continuing to test the fiscal health of America’s career military, where higher–than–expected expenses are weighing on the financial confidence of the service member families who provide this care.

The First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals that 36 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) are currently or anticipate providing care for an elderly parent or other family member.

Military families are currently or anticipate providing elder care in a variety of settings, most commonly in the home (54 percent in their own home and 42 percent in the elderly person’s home). Respondents expect to provide care by paying for:

  • * home care services (18 percent)
  • * nursing home care (8 percent)
  • * health care services (7 percent)

The cost of providing this care can be sizable. The 20 percent of survey respondents who are already caring for an elderly family member estimate their average monthly outlay at $1,342. Forty percent of people in this subgroup say costs are more than they expected, a revelation that is reflected in their financial attitudes.

About one in three families (34 percent) who are currently or anticipate caring for an elderly family member say they feel extremely or very financially stretched month to month. In contrast, just 25 percent of all military respondents say they feel extremely or very financially stretched.

“Again this year, the results of our annual survey of elder care costs underscore the financial stresses that caring for an older family member can create for our men and women in uniform,” said Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command Financial Services, Inc. “Caregiver costs are higher than many people expect. The good news is that almost half of military families who currently provide elder care took steps to prepare for these costs, and 36 percent say they work with a financial advisor. As more military families find themselves taking on the added responsibility of elder care, we expect to see growing demand for knowledgeable financial planning support.”

About 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. Financial Behaviors Index

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 Bank and First Command Financial Planning, assist American families in their efforts to build wealth, reduce debt and pursue their lifetime financial goals and dreams—focusing on consumer behavior as the first and most powerful determinant of results. Through knowledgeable advice and coaching of the financial behaviors conducive to success, First Command Financial Advisors have built trustworthy, lasting relationships with hundreds of thousands of client families since 1958.


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