It is not uncommon for workers to provide care for one or both parents as well as their own children. Elderly or disabled family members may need help getting to medical appointments, with grocery shopping, or with any of the myriad other tasks of modern life. Caregiving can be extremely time-consuming. It can also exact a toll on the caregiver’s finances.
Women are more likely to serve as caregivers. A recent study1 found that 61% of caregivers are women and 39% are men. Caregivers span all age groups. Among those providing care to adults, the average age is 49.4 years old.
Caregiving is not something that most people anticipate they will be doing. Whether caregivers ease into this role or take it on suddenly, the reality is that caregiving forces caregivers to rearrange their time, their work, and their finances. Caregivers often have to juggle their job and their responsibilities to their children in order to provide care.
If you are currently providing care to a non-child family member, what steps can you take that will help you deal with the financial aspects of your effort?
Stay in the Workforce
If possible, stay in your job. Your work provides not just income but often the health care coverage that’s critical for you and for your immediate family. And most jobs offer some sort of retirement option — essential for securing your future financial security. It’s also important to consider your post-caregiving life. You will appreciate maintaining your workplace skills and your distinct identity once your responsibilities as a caregiver end.
See If a Long-Term Insurance Policy Is in Effect
If your loved one has a long-term care insurance policy, check to see what costs (if any) it covers for home care services. The policy may extend that coverage for family members who provide these services.
Consider a Payment Arrangement
If the person you are helping has adequate financial resources and is of sound mind, it may make sense to structure a formal arrangement in which you are compensated for providing care. Of course, you should get other family members on board with it to reduce potential conflicts over any compensation you might receive. If everyone is agreeable, you should consider going a step further and drawing up a written agreement that spells out the details. It can only help if you involve an elder care attorney and have him or her review the contract.
Research Eligibility for Government Benefits
Medicaid recipients may qualify for a self-directed care program that allows them to manage their own long-term care services. Depending on the state, a qualified individual may be able to hire a family member to provide care. Some programs pay family caregivers but exclude spouses and legal guardians. Other programs will pay care providers as long as they do not live in the same home as the person receiving the care. The rules regarding eligibility and coverage differ from state to state, so contact your state Medicaid office for more information.
The Veterans Administration offers a variety of benefits to veterans who need long-term services and supports. One program, the Veteran-Directed Care plan, is similar to Medicaid’s self-directed care programs in that it allows qualified veterans to manage their own long-term care services and receive care in their own home or the home of a loved one. The program provides a monthly sum to qualified veterans to spend on goods and services, including a caregiver, to help with the activities of daily living.
Another program available to veterans who qualify for VA pensions is the Aid & Attendance program. This program supplements a military pension to help pay for the cost of a caregiver, who may be a family member. Veterans must meet one of several criteria to be accepted into this program.
Work With a Professional
If you provide care and financial assistance to an elderly or disabled loved one, you may find the process overwhelming at times. An experienced financial professional can provide insights and guidance for people trying to navigate the complexities that come with providing care for an elderly or disabled loved one.
1 Caregiving in the U.S. 2020, AARP, May 2020