First Command News & Media

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — October 27, 2014

Military Families Taxed By High Cost of Elderly Care, First Command Reports

First Command Financial Behavior Index® reveals that one third of middle-class servicemembers are providing care to an elderly family member

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FORT WORTH, Texas — The aging of America has become a financial reality for the nation’s career military, where middle-class families are significantly more likely than their civilian counterparts to care for a parent or other elderly family member – and they are spending more dollars than they expected to provide that care.

The First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals that 33 percent of middle-class military families (senior NCOs and commissioned officers in pay grades E-6 and above with household incomes of at least $50,000) are currently providing elderly care. That’s up significantly from 13 percent in 2012. In contrast, just 12 percent of general population families are currently providing elderly care, statistically unchanged from 2012.

Military families are currently or anticipate providing care in a variety of settings, most commonly in the home (56 percent in their own home and 46 percent in the elderly person’s home). Many respondents expect to provide care by paying for:

  • Home care services (28 percent)
  • Nursing home care (7 percent)
  • Health care services (8 percent)

The cost of providing this care is proving to be sizable for many families. Survey respondents who say the cost of care is more than they expected totaled 52 percent for military families and 35 percent for the general population. When asked to estimate their average monthly cost for the care of a parent or other elderly family member, military respondents pegged it at $1,467 and members of the general population said $940.

“America’s career military are deeply concerned about caring for a parent or other aging family member, and many of them are finding that they are not adequately prepared for the high cost of that care,” said Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command Financial Services, Inc. “Military families are taking on caregiver roles at a growing rate and finding that the economic reality of this new responsibility is more taxing than they expected. These findings underscore the importance of seeking out meaningful financial planning support in advance of taking on the added responsibility and expense of caring for an older family member.”

The majority of middle-class military families are now seeking out specific financial planning related to the cost of care. The Index reveals that 67 percent are planning for these costs, up from just 16 percent in 2012. And half of those families are engaging with a financial advisor. The trend has remained essentially flat in the general population, where just 14 percent of respondents are seeking out planning services related to the cost of elderly care. One in four are using a financial advisor.

Roughly one in five middle-class families say they anticipate providing elderly care in the future.

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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