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When Aging Parents Need Financial Help

As life expectancies increase along with nursing home costs, many retirees face the terrifying prospect of outliving their money.

This can put their children, members of the "sandwich generation," into an awkward position as they strive to support their own children and save for retirement while making sure their parents get the care they need.

Given America's aging population, experts predict that the issue of whom pays mom or dad's nursing home bill could become more contentious. Just over half of U.S. states have filial responsibility laws on the books dating back to the 19th century, before Medicare or Medicaid existed. The laws vary by state, but generally say that adult children can be held financially responsible for the care of an indigent parent or vice versa.

Discuss finances before things come to a head so siblings know what each person is willing or able to contribute.

Talk to the facility about other options, such as if a parent qualifies for Medicare or Medicaid, rather than blindly accepting responsibility for a bill that could ultimately reach six figures.

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