7 Ways Caregivers Can Reduce their Financial Stress
Guest article from MINES’ Trainer and Financial Coaching Partner Michelle Vullo
As your parents age, they often require more help from family. Whether they can live on their own with occasional support or they need to move into your home full-time, they often increasingly rely on others to provide assistance with bathing, dressing, transportation, and food preparation. In addition, they may need help taking care of legal and financial matters such as making medical decisions and handling bills and budgets. Your new role as a caregiver can cause considerable stress and the feeling of being overwhelmed.
Fortunately, there are workplace and community resources available to help reduce the financial and emotional stress of caregiving.
Utilize MINES’ Employee Assistance Program (EAP) financial counseling benefits for free help. Your EAP can provide you with the help of a financial counselor to assist with issues that accompany caregiving. A financial coach can help you to manage caregiving costs and to navigate eligible benefits and programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, pensions, and federal and local resources. Financial coaching can also provide personalized education regarding long-term care insurance, assisted living options, retirement account distributions, reverse mortgages, annuities, and gifting options.
Consider the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Eligible employees are entitled to twelve workweeks of leave in a 12-month period to care for the employee’s parent who has a serious health condition. If you are eligible to take intermittent FMLA, you can use leave time to take your parent to medical appointments and to provide other care.
Simplify finances as much as possible. Organize their finances in a way that you can provide assistance as they become less able to manage their money. If they have pension income or retirement plan distributions, switch those incoming payments from checks to direct deposits if possible. This will ensure your parents’ money will make it into their accounts. If they are beginning to pay bills late, you might consider setting up online bill pay so that payments will be made on time each month.
Have the important conversations early. Discuss your parents’ wishes on matters such as a Do Not Resuscitate Order, power of attorney, healthcare proxy, living will, HIPAA authorization, end-of-life wishes, aging in place, covering funeral and other final expenses, estate concerns, nursing home considerations, etc. Finances often play an important part in these decisions and a financial counselor from MINES can help facilitate these discussions.
Be vigilant about elder fraud. The elderly are a favorite target for scammers. Keep an eye on your parents’ accounts and be aware of phishing emails requesting financial account numbers, scam telephone calls, and texts involving Medicaid, reverse mortgages, sweepstakes, lotteries, and even fake checks. If your parent has been a victim of fraud, file a police report or report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Borrow rather than buy. Before you buy mobility equipment such as a shower chair, walker, wheelchair, or even a wheelchair ramp, check for a service in your area that collects and loans mobility equipment to those in need.
Contact local resources. Knowing that your parent gets a hot meal delivered can provide peace of mind for you. For delivered meals at reduced prices, contact your local Meals on Wheels. Also consider delegating some of your caregiving responsibilities by budgeting for local resources that provide elderly companions and certified nursing assistants (CNAs), and even centers that offer adult day care.
To Your Wellbeing,
-The MINES Team
As a caregiver, it is vital that you take care of yourself and use all available resources to help reduce your stress. Michelle Vullo, is an Accredited Financial Counselor with Enrich Finances. She provides free financial counseling sessions for employees eligible for MINES and Associates’ EAP services. Call MINES at (800) 873-7138 or visit online and request sessions with Michelle at Enrich.