Caregiving: Financial Issues & Options

Overview

Published: 04/11/2012

by Michelle Seitzer

Photos

“The average family caregiver for someone 50 years or older spends $5,531 per year on out of pocket caregiving expenses in 2007 which was more than 10% of the median income for a family caregiver that year.”

Valuing the Invaluable: The Economic Value of Family Caregiving, 2008 Update. AARP

 

Caregiving is costly. Even if you choose to care for your friend/family member at home, there are many expenses that you will assume (and not all of them are financial): lost wages due to missed work time; gas for trips to the doctor, hospital, grocery store, or pharmacy; food and nutritional supplements; medications; adult undergarments; equipment rentals -- i.e. wheelchair, oxygen tanks, etc.; and more.

 

As these costs compound over time, you may reach a point when you must explore and consider other options. A recent survey indicated that “47% of working caregivers indicate an increase in caregiving expenses has caused them to use up all or most of their savings” (Source: Evercare Survey of the Economic Downturn and Its Impact on Family Caregiving; National Alliance for Caregiving and Evercare, March 2009).

 

But like so many things related to caregiving, knowing where to begin -- and perhaps overcoming your guilt about seeking help -- is the first step. Before you go any further, shut out the guilty feelings. There is nothing wrong with researching options, and it does not mean you have to pursue any of them. Think about it in a positive way: you may be able to access resources that will help you better provide care at home.

 

Talk to other family members too. Communication is essential in caregiving; it keeps everyone on the same page, relieves you from the burden of making all the decisions, and gives people an opportunity to get involved (offering their time or maybe even financial support). Our Family Portal tool is a perfect place to organize all of this information. Access it here.

 

Where can I find information and resources on financial assistance?

 

Area Agency on Aging -- Call 1-800-677-1116 or head to Eldercare.gov to find out where the local AAA office serving your county is. AAA staff and care managers can work with you to highlight what financial assistance options are available to your caree.

 

Eldercare Locator -- The Financial Assistance section of the Eldercare Locator site (eldercare.gov) points you to several reputable web destinations: the AARP Money section, MyMoney.gov, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and more.

Benefits Check-Up -- An excellent “one-stop shop” for determining what assistance programs your caree may be eligible for (food programs, help with paying for prescriptions, etc.), BenefitsCheckup.org is a great resource for caregivers. Head to the site and simply plug in your state and zip code where indicated.

 

Veterans Affairs -- If your caree was a service member or the spouse of one, check the US Department of Veterans Affairs site: http://www.vba.va.gov/VBA/

 

Your bank -- Ask your bank what programs they might offer to support caregivers (such as low-interest loans or bill pay deferment). Your caree’s bank, retirement benefits, or pension program may also provide options.

 

Check back for articles on specific financial assistance options, such as Veterans Benefits, long-term care insurance and more.