Financial Preparation to be a Family Caregiver

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It's the elephant in the room. It hovers over holiday meals and lingers on family vacations. We're talking about the unavoidable "talk" with your parents. Only this time it's not about the birds and the bees, but health and finances.

“What we see now is a lot of people run out of savings and they don't know what to do. So that's why I suggest you sit down with your parents when you see their health going down,” explained Tara Spallino, Alabama Cares Coordinator with Southern Alabama Regional Council on Aging (SARCOA).

Family caregiver assistance comes with a price tag. The good news is that reality can be less scary with the right preparation.

“Talk with an elder care lawyer. Learn the ins and outs of the law, what you can and cannot transfer, how to get assistance through other services,” explained Spallino.

Before you prepare to drain your wallet or scramble for account numbers, sit down with your parents. Decide what they are willing to cash out on. Communication will avoid financial distress.

“Sometimes it's a long drawn-out process and it always helps to have that extra support in there,” said Crystal Dawson, Lead Case Manager at SouthernCare Hospice.

There is flexible care that relieves budgeting pressure. Some agencies have a Medicaid waiver program. It adds—or takes away—services when needed.

“You can increase the services to make up for what he can't do during that time period and as they get better, decrease back down to where they need to be,” said Spallino.

Before making any decisions, ask your aging parents their opinions. Keeping them in the loop will avoid them becoming a "potted plant."

“Usually around 65. When you turn 65, let your family members know because we don't know what's going to happen as we get older,” said Dawson.

The “talk" can mean sweaty palms just like that "sex talk" years ago. However, there are outlets to help you get through it without hurting anybody's pride.

“You can go online for tips on how to have that talk. You can get their doctor to have that talk if you don't feel comfortable having that talk yourself,” Spallino suggested.

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