Financial Issues for Long-Distance Caregivers
Kathy Dicenso, CFP®
June 5, 2018
As older friends and relatives increasingly need our help, it’s not always possible for us to move back to personally oversee their care. The same goes for younger loved ones who face sudden illness or injury that robs them of their ability to care for themselves.
How can we be in charge when we can’t be onsite?
It takes a plan, one best made well ahead of the time when there’s a real need. In reality, caregiving issues should he part of any person’s long-term financial plan if there’s even the remotest chance that a spouse, parent, or friend may need our care. Statistics suggest that the possibility may not be all that remote, particularly as Americans live longer. In a 2009 Report, The National Alliance for Caregivers, in collaboration with AARP and the MetLife Foundation, reported that currently 29 percent of the U.S. adult population, or 65.7 million people, are caregivers, including 31 percent of all households. Those numbers are expected to grow largely due to the aging Baby Boomer demographic.
“It’s important to get one-to-one advice on these matters because a caregiving plan needs to fit you and the person you’re trying to help.”
Where to start?
A good first stop is a qualified financial planner who can look at your overall financial picture and the financial picture for your loved one. Then you can determine how much help you can offer from a money perspective, either in direct care, travel expenses or expenses for third parties offering direct assistance onsite. It’s important to get one-to-one advice on these matters because a caregiving plan needs to fit you and the person you’re trying to help. Here are some questions that can help you focus your thinking:
Do you know your loved one’s care preferences?
Before you even get to money issues, understand what your loved one wants. The best-case scenario is to have a conversation with that person long before they need care, but even in a transitional situation, addressing their care preferences and overall dignity is paramount. You need to make sure your loved one understands your situation too, particularly if your work, your family situation or other issues prevent you from caring for them personally.
Are their legal documents in place?
Does this parent, relative or friend have a will and necessary health directives in place? Health directives name a single individual to manage all key health decisions if a patient cannot make them; a will depending on their assets and lifestyle situation – if they have kids to raise or a business to run, for example – check to see what detailed legal instructions they have in place to manage their finances or run their business if they are incapacitated.
Bigger families and groups can share responsibilities, and that can make the caregiving job easier.
Do you know their financial situation?
It’s rarely easy to talk about money even in the closest relationships. But once care preferences are known, then it’s time to discuss the loved one’s own financial preparations because one of the biggest misperceptions about long-term care is that the government provides financial support for nursing or home-based care. A qualified financial planner can be an important mediator in this very detailed discussion, asking both sides critical questions to illuminate what financial resources are available and might be needed.
Who should handle what?
Bigger families and groups can share responsibilities, and that can make the caregiving job easier. But if you are soloing as the financial and health power of attorney, it’s important to devise ways to do remote tasks efficiently and bring in help when necessary to supervise effectively from afar.
Consider a geriatric care manager.
The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers is an organization of on-the-ground caregivers and care-giving coordinators with skills that include nursing, gerontology, social work and psychology.
“A trained financial expert can help you set up a system for collecting and sorting all the medical and care-based paperwork during your loved one’s care.”
Develop a paperwork system.
The sheer amount of paperwork associated with caring for a sick or disabled person can shake the most organized individual. A trained financial expert can help you set up a system for collecting and sorting all the medical and care-based paperwork during your loved one’s care.
What if I need to move?
Never say never – this is the reality of a caregiver’s life. Particularly as loved ones get to the end stage of their lives or suffer emergencies, supervising caregivers need to plan for anything.
This article has also been published by these sources: Generation Boomer Magazine Volume IV Winter 2012 p11-12
Kathy DiCenso is a financial consultant and president of DiCenso & Associates in Reno. Contact her at 775-336-0021 or at Kathy.email@example.com, her comany’s securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment advisor. Member of FINRA/SIPC.
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