It costs families more to care for a frail older adult than to raise a child for the first 17 years of her life. Yet, while the government routinely provides a broad range of assistance and free services for children, it offers only limited benefits for those needing long-term supports and services—and mostly only for those who are impoverished and very ill.
The other day, the federal government released a headline grabbing report: The average out-of-pocket cost of raising a child from birth to age 17 is about $234,000. Among families where an older adult has severe long-term care needs and uses paid care, out-of-pocket costs average $140,000, according to research by my Urban Institute colleague Melissa Favreault. That enormous cost is generally spread over much less time, typically four years in contrast to 17.