Although caring for aging family members during their golden years can be an incredibly rewarding experience, it can also be quite taxing. This is especially true when it comes to managing personal finances and ensuring your own financial health. As senior adults become increasingly dependent, many family caregivers are forced to take extended leaves from their jobs. According to MetLife, caregiving costs working Americans nearly $3 trillion in lost wages. Following are several strategies for establishing a plan for success as both a caregiver and in your own, personal life.
Don’t Be Afraid To Explore Public Benefits
There are a number of free and low-cost services that can help family caregivers with ongoing care-giving tasks. Taking advantage of these resources early on will often lead to greater financial stability in future years, when more pressing senior needs arise. The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging offers comprehensive lists of public resources for seniors based upon geographic location.
Consider the Advantages of Home Care Services
Rather than sacrificing your job or putting your career on hold, consider the benefits of working with home care companies and respite care services. These things can make maintaining a full or part-time job feasible, despite your commitment to caring for a loved one. When considering the costs of this third-party support, make sure to account for the missed wages and lost professional opportunities that you might face if opting to go it alone.
Take Steps to Keep Your Senior Loved One Active
Keeping seniors active is a great way to enhance their life qualities and promote longevity. It also limits the likelihood of aging adults becoming entirely dependent as the result of declining memory and cognitive functioning. Seniors who maintain balanced and active senior lifestyles in California, Oregon, Washington or elsewhere, tend to age at a far less rapid rate than those who do not. Thus, the best strategy for limiting you caregiver duties is to establish a healthy and balanced schedule for your elderly relative that is rich with challenging and engaging activities. This schedule can include dance or aerobics classes at a local senior center, participation in a volunteer program at a community food bank or involvement in book clubs and knitting clubs among other things.
Conduct Long-Term Planning Early On
Seniors who tackle the often daunting task of long-term planning early on, often have the greatest say in how the later stages of their lives turn out. Sadly, far too many people wait until they’re already facing age-related, degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s before putting their wishes in writing. In a recent study conducted by Genworth Financial, 90 percent of survey participants said that they had yet to discuss their long-term care needs with their spouses, adult children or other family members. If mobility, memory, or cognition undergo any significant decline before these plans are complete, many of the most important legal, financial and medical decisions will have to be handled by the state. According to the Administration on Aging, nearly 70 percent of all people will need specialized, long-term care at some point in their lives. Thus, in addition to living wills and Power of Attorney, aging adults should also have clearly defined financial plans that detail how the costs of these services will be paid.
With diligent planning, you can enjoy more time with your elderly loved one while experiencing far less financial stress. Even the best of intentions won’t ensure success in your new role as family caregiver. Only a solid financial plan is capable of ensuring that things flow smoothly over the years and throughout the many challenges that these bring.