Helping a loved one when they are not able to care for themselves, whether because they are ill or frail due to advancing age, is a challenging task. Oftentimes an adult child is tasked with communicating with doctors, managing a parent’s healthcare and their finances as well. It is a difficult task, but there are many resources available to help, including talking with an Elder Lawyer – an estate planning attorney with additional training in key areas of the law.
The number of family members offering care for a loved one is surprisingly high – more than 66 million Americans – about 40% of the total adult population -provide financial and social care for a loved one according to a recent article on fiftyplusadvocate.com, “Financial planning tips for caregivers.”
There are a lot of issues, many of which are complex, when serving as a caregiver – and speaking with a seasoned Elder Law attorney will be helpful. 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 Proxy 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.