The primary caregiver for an elderly family member needs to go into the position knowing it will be costly to them as well, according to The Motley Fool in “The High Cost of being an Elderly Relative’s Caregiver.” It would also be wise to be prepared to have a discussions about finances with other family members.
Caregivers spend about $7,000 a year out of their own money on caregiving. Paying for rent, utilities, food, clothing or medical expenses all adds up. If you don’t live nearby, the cost of travelling creates additional costs.
Caring for someone with dementia? Double that amount.
Being able to access the financial resources of the person you are caring for is fraught with problems. First, are you able to do that? Second, will there be any accusations of elder financial abuse? If there are siblings who are not involved with the care, will they question those expenses?
Most of the time, there’s one person in the family who takes control. If the loved ones have not done any planning, they need to designate who is going to be the Health Care Proxy and who is going to manage the estate, when they’re gone. Ideally one person should be running things. However, the financial burden should never fall on any one person. Find ways in which everyone can pitch in.
You’ll need to know about any benefits the person is receiving. If they are a veteran, what will they be eligible for through Veteran Aid and Attendance benefits? Most people don’t know about those benefits, but they may be available.
If the person you are caring for still has capacity to do so, make sure to have the caregiver designated as a Health Care Proxy. Contact the banks, utilities, and other entities where bills are being paid to ensure that they understand a family member has been given authorization to deal with their accounts. Sometimes a phone call will do, but sometimes documents need to be prepared.
Find the different sources of income to make sure you are maximizing what the person has before the family starts pitching in. What if they have a long-term care insurance policy but the kids don’t know about it? Get all the information before you start spending.
An estate planning attorney can advise you on what to expect and what you have in the way of options, should you take the position of caregiver.
Reference: The Motley Fool (Sep. 13, 2018) “The High Cost of being an Elderly Relative’s Caregiver”