Preparing for Family Caregiving - Preparing for one of the most important roles of your life


by Harvey Weinstein, MBA

 

 

Do you wish you would live to age 80 or 90?  A century ago, the odds were decidedly against it, but today we take greater longevity almost for granted. The extra years can be a wonderful gift, providing you have more time for loved ones. However, living longer also has added costs, among them a greater chance of needing expensive long-term care.

 

While all chronic illnesses involve financial and emotional costs, Alzheimer's disease can be especially challenging. Alzheimer's patients frequently end up in nursing homes, where a CT room costs over $12,000 per month.

 

Whether someone in your family ends up suffering from Alzheimer's or an equally devastating illness, you may be called upon to help out, providing both hands-on care and financial support.

 

Looking for a Simple Answer

 

There are no simple answers to the financial and legal questions related to caregiving, but advance planning can help. I suggest you gather your family, and consider the answers to the following four questions:

1. How can I prepare for the financial challenges of caregiving?

It's never too early to talk with family members about what-if scenarios, “What if your parents need to move in with you, for instance? That might require that you retrofit your home to make sure that it's safe for them.

 

Alternatively, if they live hundreds of miles away, you will need to visit them often to make sure they are being cared for properly. You'll also need to figure out how care will affect your career and family life

 

Talk with a financial advisor to determine how future caregiving responsibilities could affect your overall financial strategy. Depending on your family history, you may want to begin saving now for potential caregiving costs.

 

You’ll also need professional help to evaluate the chances that money will last their lifetime.

2. What if my parent or spouse doesn't have long-term-care insurance?

Taking an inventory of your loved one's assets may help you find sources of money to help cover caregiving costs.  Could they afford to move into an assisted living facility? What other assets or resources are available to cover such ongoing expenses as a home health aide or a large onetime expense like a house retrofit?

Determine if your loved one is a veteran who is eligible for the VA Aid and Attendance program that pays for long- term care at home; or any other government aid program.

3. Is Medicaid an answer?

A: Eligibility for Medicaid, which covers the cost of most long-term care in the U.S., is determined by a maze of state and federal rules. In general, assets must be reduced to a set limit in order to qualify, with federal "spousal impoverishment" rules protecting the healthy spouse from having to spend down all of the couple's assets to pay for nursing home care.

 

People who aren't familiar with Medicare and Medicaid regulations may be surprised to discover what isn't covered so it's worth spending some time researching what these programs actually pay.

4. What if I need to transfer management of a loved ones finances to myself?

A: Taking responsibility for a parent's or spouse's legal, medical and financial affairs will be easier if you're able to have this conversation while your loved one still has the cognitive ability to understand the situation.

Make sure to review and update relevant legal and financial documents, benefit options, and review tax documents.

It’s Always About the Money

Many family fights and tensions are centered on the issues of money-who has it; who doesn’t; how it is spent; how it is decided how it’s spent; what the family’s past issues were around money; what are the issues are now.

It is challenging to deal with the complexity of our emotional about parents, their illness, their aging, and death issues. Often, these emotions come out in family resentments and conflicts about money.

Helping Families to Avoid Conflicts

Some families can create a Family Care Plan that can benefit the family. The Plan would reduce the burden on the caregivers and resolve misunderstandings between family members. Each family member can use the written agreement to write down the commitments.

Caregivers also need to review the eligibility of the parent for veteran’s benefits and other government benefits as a way to avoid running out of money

Families and caregivers can get additional help from our not for profit organization, Government Benefits for Seniors.

 


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