At some point in life, just about everyone becomes a caregiver to a family member or loved one. Whether it’s due to an unexpected circumstance or old age, it’s important to prepare in the event that you have to take on this responsibility.
If you are a caregiver or know someone who is, you probably have some stories about how overwhelming it can be – emotionally and otherwise. Being a caregiver requires love, time and patience. It also requires some financial oversight – an aspect of caregiving that often doesn’t get the proper attention it deserves.
These 10 tips can help you manage the financial side of caregiving, so everyone involved can feel more comfortable.
- Talk about caregiving now, before it’s too late. Discuss and build a caregiving plan in advance, to prepare for the unexpected. While discussing money with an aging parent may seem difficult, it doesn’t have to be. Here are some questions to help get you started:
- Has your loved one saved money? If so, how much?
- What’s your loved one’s source of income?
- Does your loved one have investments or insurance policies?
- Who is their financial advisor, attorney and CPA?
- Do they want to live in an assisted living facility or would they prefer to live at home?
- Have they planned for elder care and/or can they pay for elder care?
- Do they have long-term insurance?
- Review estate planning documents. A caregiver should know if their loved one has prepared estate planning documents, and should make sure that their will and power of attorney are updated.
- Keep financial documents organized and accessible. Important documents should not only be reviewed and updated, but also kept in a secure and accessible place. These documents include wills, powers of attorney, investment statements, insurance policies, bank account statements and so on.
- Know what’s important to your loved one. Generally, a caregiver’s number-one priority is to do what their loved one would want them to do. For that reason, it’s important that caregivers take the time to talk with their loved ones about their preferences for receiving care.
- Seek professional advice. Caregivers should seek two types of professional advice – financial and legal – when it comes to planning for their loved ones.
- Look into public benefits. Many times, public benefits are available to assist with the care of the elderly. Veterans and their spouses may qualify for certain government programs (such as Medicare and Social Security), for example.
- Supervise finances even when the loved one still can. Since elderly parents’ ability to manage their own finances may begin to deteriorate at any time (sometimes as early as age 60), a caregiver should begin monitoring their spending and bank accounts the minute there are any signs of confusion or struggle.
- Keep them safe from scams and online hackers. More and more we have seen the elderly being targeted by email and telephone scams, as well as online hackers and scam artists. Caregivers should be aware of the real possibility that their elderly parents might get taken advantage of; being proactive is crucial in preventing such events.
- Consider how the caregiver’s lifestyle and finances will be impacted. The last thing people should do is allow their caregiving role to become a full-time job. While it may often feel like one, caregivers should try to keep working if they can. Having a job will help the caregiver maintain a source of income that can ease the strain of financially supporting their loved one, if that becomes necessary. More than that, keeping a job helps caregivers maintain a well-balanced life – as much as they can.
- Take care and get support. Take time for yourself and be mindful of your emotional needs. Local support groups exist where caregivers can feel a sense of community and talk about their feelings with people who will understand. Websites like www.caregiving.com can also help create a sense of community. It’s also important to maintain active communication with spouses, siblings and other family.