Column, Money Matters

Caregivers, consider this

By Kevin Theissen

Almost everyone must become a caregiver to a loved one at some point in their lives. It could be due to unexpected circumstances or old age and it’s important to prepare in case you must take on this responsibility. If you are a caregiver, you know how taxing it can be, in so many ways, including emotionally. Being a caregiver requires caring and a ton of patience. The financial aspects of caregiving are often pushed to the side when they should be front and center. Here are some financial ideas for caregivers to consider and ideally, get ahead of, to avoid having to enter crisis mode.

Plan early

While discussing money with anyone, including an aging loved one, may seem difficult, it needs to happen. It’s in their best interest and as caregiver, you need to know the fundamental aspects; for example, how much money have they saved, sources of income, what investments and insurance policies do they have, who are their financial professionals, do they prefer living in assisted living at home, and do they have long-term care insurance? Understanding their financial situation when your loved one is healthier and able to make decisions can make it easier for you to make decisions when it’s needed.

Understand all financial and estate documents

In addition to investment, banking, and insurance, as a caregiver you need to know if your loved one has prepared estate planning documents and should make sure that their will, living will, health care proxy and power of attorney are up to date. These documents don’t often include their feelings so a personal letter can cover some emotion behind their wishes in the cold financial documents.

Protect from risks

Increasingly, the elderly are being targeted by email, telephone and online scams. We all need to be proactive in preventing scams by often reminding our family members of potential scams and that if they are unsure of anything that they contact the caregiver for advice. Another way of protecting our loved ones is to seek professional legal and financial advice. Be honest with yourself. When it comes to financial matters you might not be the best person to give that advice.

Take care of yourself

Caregiving can be a lot and can easily affect your own life personally, professionally and financially. It is very common that your own personal finances may be affected from the time, and money, that you spend on your loved one. Remember to care for yourself and be mindful of your own emotional needs by keeping open communication with your other family members. It isn’t easy, but it is the right thing to do, and with proper planning you can make it easier and less stressful.

Kevin Theissen is the owner of HWC Financial in Ludlow.

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