Becoming a caregiver can result in many challenges; communicating with doctors, managing your time and your parents’ health, and just as importantly, their financial welfare. According to the National Caregiver’s Library website, (www.caregiverslibrary.org,) “caregiving involves more than just medical problems. Helping your loved one manage his or her finances can ensure that he or she will be able to pay for needed care and live more comfortably.”
A recent article on fiftyplusadvocate.com, “Financial planning tips for caregivers” noted that according to the National Alliance for Caregiving, more than 66 million family caregivers in the U.S. – about 40% of the country’s adult population – provide critical societal and financial contributions toward maintaining a loved one’s well-being.
If you are a member of this group, there are a lot of traps when serving as a caregiver, so talk with a seasoned Elder Law attorney. Elder Law attorneys are estate planning attorneys with additional knowledge about Medicare and Medicaid, insurance and legal affairs that impact seniors.
The National Caregiver’s Library website lists several suggestions for caregivers. These include budgeting and making sure the family knows the location of important documents, as well as taking an accurate assessment of your loved one’s financial situation. One more: being able to obtain access to bank accounts in an emergency.
Caregivers should be certain that a Power of Attorney and Health Care Surrogate designation are in place where appropriate.
The article says that the best time to begin your financial planning as a caregiver really depends on the health of the individual, but you don’t want to have to do that planning in a crisis. Best to start early as it’s usually difficult to face end of life issues. Start planning by age 70 or earlier, especially if there are medical issues.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” the article advises.
Finally, some good advice for caregivers that has nothing to do with money. Rather, you should take breaks from caregiving duties and do something for yourself, even if it’s an hour a day. Try to avoid burn-out and take a walk, read a book, or have coffee with friends.
In my Elder Law practice, we work with the whole family. Please visit my website for an overview of how I can help. And if you need help, ask - before it is too late!
Reference: fiftyplusadvocate.com (August 3, 2015) “Financial planning tips for caregivers”