Caring for a loved one can cause stress for caregivers on an emotional and a financial level. Millions of American adults have aging parents who need care and many seniors may, at some point, require financial assistance. Fidelity’s Retirement Health Care Cost Estimate shows that a couple, both retiring at age 65, can expect to spend more than $245,000 on health care while enrolled in Medicare. This staggering amount, nearly a quarter of a million dollars, does not include nursing home care or long-term care expenses.

Unfortunately, there is no sign that healthcare, prescription drug expenses, and long-term care expenses will slow down anytime soon. What does this mean for caregivers, particularly women, who tend to have less money saved for their own retirement needs? Is it possible to help out without risking one’s own financial stability?

For many Baby Boomers who become caregivers, managing caregiving expenses is especially critical as they get closer to retirement themselves. Many people no longer have pensions from their employers, and surveys show that an alarming percentage of older adults do not have enough in retirement savings to meet their own expenses once they leave the workforce. And while many people plan to simply continue working if they can’t afford to retire, employer layoffs, health problems, and other issues may arise that thwart these plans.

There are no easy answers, but education for families on the true costs of aging and advance planning can help prevent a financial crisis down the road. People all too often underestimate the costs of home care and nursing home care, assume that the government will pay for long-term care, and don’t understand the federal rules regarding the services that are covered by Medicare and Medicaid. Family conversations about finances, wills, advance planning, and long-term care insurance can be touchy and difficult, but are important to have so that everyone understands what the options are, and can start planning for the future. Care managers, elder law attorneys, and other knowledgeable professionals can provide consultations and guidance on the state and federal programs that are available, as well as other resources that caregivers can tap into to assist their loved ones.