Guest Column: Family support teams work together to provide care to their elderly members — part one

By Pastor Randall Hargate, C.A.P.S. — C.L.T.C.
Crossroads Christian Fellowship

It is estimated that the “baby boomer” generation, which is now beginning a metamorphosis into the “senior boomer” generation, will begin the largest transfer of wealth the world has ever known. It is estimated the senior boomer generation will leave to their heirs more than $40 trillion at their deaths.

In previous generations, with the economy of our nation able to support the dreams and aspirations of most hardworking and industrious people, it was not as large of a concern for seniors to leave an inheritance to loved ones. In this questionable global economy, the opinions of our nation’s seniors and their families are changing.

Besides the obvious desire to leave a surviving spouse with adequate financial means, many are becoming more and more convinced of the need to leave a financial legacy to their descendants.

For those who have a need to leave an inheritance to their loved ones, the biggest threat to this goal is the cost of long-term care. Nursing homes can exceed $70,000 per year, and these prices are expected to triple in the next 20 years. Depending on the number of hours a caregiver is present, home health care can be even more expensive than nursing homes.

For those who have the financial means, financial assistance is not available — these are private-pay expenses. When this occurs, any plans on leaving a legacy to loved ones can be severely compromised.

While there are other more affordable strategies for elder care, such as adult day services, for many, assembling a “family support team” is the foundation behind preserving the family estate.

A family support team is “an organized and combined effort from multiple family members and friends united by the goal of providing the desired care their elder needs.”

When these caregiving duties are not shared, often it becomes the source of friction among family members. This friction can cause scars that sometimes never heal.

When the care recipient is blessed with a living spouse, many times he or she will perform most of the caregiving duties, but this can be a costly proposition. The mental, emotional and physical toll it takes on a spouse can cause them to harm themselves or fall victim to the cumulative emotional toll from taking on too large of a job.

Caregiving is a seven days a week and 24 hours a day job. Besides the exhausting toll on the caregiving spouse, it is dangerous for a 110-pound wife to be transferring or lifting a 200-pound husband who is unable to move on his own.

If the spouse is deceased or unable to provide care, a “caregiver” is required to provide these services. Many times, this caregiver is forced to quit his or her employment to be available for the demands of elder care. This type of sacrifice could be a very expensive solution, especially for the family of the one sacrificing the additional income as a result of their elder care duties.

Many additional problems occur when the duties of elder care are not distributed among a team of people who have a vested interest in keeping their loved ones from exhausting their resources on long-term care. Given the reality that many children and grandchildren live far away from their elders, the terms of the family support team will need to be wisely thought through.

You will find this can be a challenging, but rewarding, endeavor, and the services of a neutral mediator such as a “geriatrics care manager” could be a great asset. The plan to prevent institutional care must be well thought out, but to honor mother and father by preventing a nursing home stay is a noble endeavor.

In the next article, we will give some helpful ideas on setting up your family’s support team.

A series of training classes on establishing a “family support” team will be offered to the public free of charge. These classes will be at Crossroads Adult Day Services, 625 Adams St., Rockford.

To sign up for this class, contact me at my e-mail address at, or call (815) 489-0560 for more information.

Pastor Randall Hargate C.A.P.S. — CLTC is pastor of Crossroads Christian Fellowship in Rockford and founder of a local adult daycare called Crossroads Adult Day Services. He is also author of the book The First Commandment With Promise — A Christian guide to eldercare planning, available through

From the Nov. 9-15, 2011, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!