[WRITTEN BY TRUST & WILL PARTNER RIANKA R. DORSAINVIL - CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER]
Gratefully, technological and medical advances have given us more years with our loved ones over the past few decades. Today, humans are living longer, and fitting more life into years. Although these advancements are welcomed, we must adapt to them. Just as the concept of saving for retirement has had to evolve to meet our shifting demographics, so must the role of the people who help shepherd our oldest loved ones into their sunset years.
In my last article, “Redefining the Role of Modern Caregiver,” I examined how caretaking roles have been redefined and how the effect of women's roles in the workplace has turned the old-fashioned notion of caregiving on its head. Our society is modernizing but there are still areas that lag behind. For so many, caregivers often come to a crossroads where they have to decide whether they will be able to continue working during this transitional time, with many setting aside their careers to do so. This can put a lot of financial stress on an individual, along with the emotional and mental toll that comes with mentally preparing for the end of a family member’s life.
Illuminating the Financial Toll of Caregiving
Although some wealthier families may be able to afford external help or pay a trusted friend or family member to take care of a loved one, most families don’t have that luxury. Out-of-pocket expenses can accrue quickly during a crisis or for incidental expenditures. Quickly, caregivers can expend tremendous amounts of resources on gas, groceries, medical supplies, hospital bills and more.
If a caregiver decides to quit their job due to time and energy constraints, their personal financial situation is likely to suffer over the short- and long-term. Often overlooked benefits like 401k contributions and insurance could be lost. For women especially, a hit to their career trajectory, and the challenges they may face when trying to re-enter the workplace can be overwhelming.
So, how can we best prepare to tackle these challenges head on?
Get to Know the Modern Caregiver’s Toolkit
Although you may find yourself overwhelmed at the onset of this transition into caregiving, there are plenty of tools and resources to help make your position easier. For starters, ensuring your name is listed as the official caregiver will simplify the process and free up some of your time for more hands-on responsibilities. This will assist in helping to secure correct assignment on Medicare, utilities, bank accounts, taxes, and other insurances. The below list outlines some of the most important documents you’ll need to know and tools and resources you will depend on to get organized for your new role.
Understand the Documents
A Power of Attorney (POA) authorizes you or someone you trust to make legal and financial decisions when your loved one is no longer competent. There are two options to consider:
Springing POA - this type of agreement will not become effective until an event triggers it, such as the incapacitation of a loved one, thus “springing” the person in charge into immediate action.
Durable POA - this type of agreement becomes effective immediately.
A Living Will or Healthcare Directive gives your loved one the choice in medical care they would like to receive if they are not able to make a decision for themselves later on.
A Will is a document that allows your loved one to appoint beneficiaries for their assets once they have passed.
Review the Resources
Unlike regular health care, long-term care insurance helps cover support systems that ensure routine daily activities such as bathing, dressing, exercise and more are continued. Note that this type of healthcare needs to be purchased before the onset of a debilitating condition so it is smart to consider earlier on. It has been shared that the sweet spot for this purchase is between the ages of mid-50s to 60s.
Get to know AARP. AARP is a nonprofit organization that helps empower those over 50 years of age to keep or improve the quality of their life as they grow older. By joining, your loved one will enjoy many benefits, discounts, and resources specifically designed for senior citizens.
Know that there are many resources that can support your journey into caregiving, including the National Alliance for Caregiving, National Family Caregiver Support Program, and Caregiver Action Network.
Caregiving Is Hard, But It Can Be More Manageable
While the role of caregiving presents so many opportunities to connect and provide love with older generations, it isn’t without its share of challenges. Getting organized and planning ahead can lessen the burden. Ensuring that legal documents are properly filed so that decisions will not be left up to the court is key. Reaching out to your support systems including family, friends, colleagues and nonprofit organizations can help you make a personalized plan to transition into this important role. How are you preparing for the caregiving needs of your family in years to come?
Is there a question here we didn’t answer? Reach out to us today or chat with a live member support representative!