Tips to Make the Money Last Longer
There are many “roadblocks” along the road of each Caregiver Journey. Many roadblocks can be summed up into three different categories: Family Roadblocks, Geographic Roadblocks, and Financial Roadblocks.
In our last blog, we talked about Geographic Roadblocks. Your parent may be declining and you want to help but there’s some reason that you can’t. For some adult kids, the primary caregiver roadblock is distance.
In our last article, we talked about Geographic Roadblocks. Today we’re going to talk about the financial roadblocks that money (or lack thereof) can throw in the way of getting proper care. When a loved one starts declining and needs extra care, it can be expensive. Previously the money that they had coming in was sufficient to meet all of their needs. As a matter of fact, they had extra money to add to their savings every month. However, when one spouse starts declining and has additional money needs these extra expenses can dry up the stash of surplus money and can start depleting savings quickly.
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Navigating Around Financial Roadblocks
If your loved one is declining and needs additional care here are a few cost-saving tips that you may be able to implement to help their money last a little bit longer.
Family is the go-to initial source for assistance for many declining seniors regardless of how much money they have. If there are several local family members who are willing and able to help, this resource in and of itself can help the declining senior stay home much longer than otherwise would have been possible. It’s critical that the family meet together to come up with a going forward plan for mom or dad to decide who’s going to do which task and when they are to be done. Scheduling and communication are both critical to making this plan work.
Different communities have various no and low-cost options that can help declining seniors remain at home and independent for a while longer. (1) Some senior centers provide transportation, socialization and noon meals. (2) Some communities have local transportation for seniors available to take them to doctor’s appointments and local shopping; (3) Meals on Wheels is available in many parts of this country that provide warm nutritious meals for seniors. The service additionally provides the opportunity for a senior to be able to interact with a real person briefly that delivers their meal. Loneliness is a huge issue among seniors in this country and even a brief daily interaction can make a big difference for them.
Adult Day Care
This works a lot like the daycare that you used to take your kids to when they were little. You drop your parents off on the way to work and pick them up on the way home. This service is not appropriate for all seniors, but for those who may need a little supervision or social interaction during a day it may be perfect for a period of time. Most adult day cares provide a noon meal and make efforts to engage seniors in activities that are appropriate to their level of functioning.
After a senior declines even more, this service may reach the point where it no longer meets their needs. However during the time that it is appropriate, this care may allow a a adult child/family caregiver continue to work without having to worry about their cognitively declining parent being at home alone.
Non-medical Home Care
Families with declining seniors who need some assistance during the day can often coordinate care between family and non-medical caregivers. By utilizing non-medical caregivers, families are freed up to engage in some of their own family activities or go to work during the day without having to worry about their parent. The cost of this care is usually paid out of pocket, but some areas or the country have waiver programs that cover some of the cost of non-medical care.
Depending on the level of care needed, facility care may be appropriate. If for whatever reason Home Care is no longer a viable option, this may be the next step. The three primary levels to consider here are:
Independent Living Facility
If Mom’s home is too remote, too big, requires too much maintenance or has built-in fall hazards (such as upstairs bedrooms), Independent Living might be a good option. Some seniors sell their homes and use the money from the sale to pay for care in an independent living facility. These facilities provide meals, socialization and a sense of security of being in a community of like-minded seniors.
Assisted Living Facilities
Assisted Living Facilities are appropriate for seniors who need just a little more assistance. Seniors sometimes sell their homes and use the proceeds from the sale to help pay for this level of care.
Skilled Care Facilities
A Skilled Care Facility may be appropriate when a senior needs full-time skilled care. Many families start out paying for skilled care out-of-pocket but may eventually qualify for Medicaid assistance to help pay for this cost of care. If your spouse or parent is needing assistance in a Skilled Care Facility, please contact your local elder law attorney for assistance. With a little advance planning, an elder law attorney can often help your family preserve more assets than otherwise would have been possible.
Financial issues can throw big roadblocks in the path of getting the appropriate care needed for a declining senior. It is critical for the senior to have regular medical check-ups and closely follow physician recommendations as to medication, therapies, types of care and the level of care that is appropriate at a given time.
We wish you the best as you work to help the declining senior in your life with these difficult financial decisions.
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Thank You for being a Caregiver for Your Loved One – you are making a huge difference in their life!