Many families are unprepared for nursing home or long term care planning costs.

Many families are unprepared for nursing home or long term care planning costs, especially when they find out that Medicare doesn't pay for long-term care.

The monthly cost in a private room at a nursing home, is approximately $9,000 per month in our area. The yearly cost is 12 months x $9,000 equals $108,000 per year.

Medicare does not pay for long term care. Medicaid will pay for the nursing home, only when you have spent most of your assets.

Assisted living is an option where the facility provides personal care services, such as meals, housekeeping and assistance with activities. However, the cost is still not cheap: The national median cost in 2011 was $39,135, according to Genworth. Additionally the assisted living cost is not covered by Medicare or Medicaid.

If they have a choice, at least 90% of elderly parents prefer to stay at home as long as they can, according to AARP research. But if the parents can no longer safely live at home, it can be hard for children to move them into an adult care facility.

There may be another option. Sometimes the home can be modified so a parent can stay there, and you can arrange for a home caregiver.

The caregiver can be a professional or can be a family caregiver. The family caregiver can take over many responsibilities. One might manage a parent's finances, while another sibling will take the parent to doctors' appointments and shopping. Those who move in with a parent take on a significant and sustained burden of care.

However, caregivers need to also watch their own health. There is such a thing as caregiver burnout. Among female caregivers 50 and older, 20% reported symptoms of depression, according to a 2010 study on working caregivers by MetLife.

Most people state, however, it's a hard job, but most worthwhile things are hard. My parents were there for me when I needed a helping hand. It's only natural that I be here for them now.

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