Thanks to modern medicine and technology, humans can now reach ages beyond what we could have 30-40 years ago. Grandparents and even great-grandparents can meet and interact with their descendants, beautifully bridging the gap between generations. This is wonderful when you are prepared. When unprepared, old age can be a nightmare and a burden to loved ones.
Aging comes with many different things, including an increased dependence on family members and other individuals to assist with daily tasks. As a result, many families are finding themselves having to move their aging loved ones in to care for them. This is a great way to give the aging individual a continued sense of normalcy and extra love and care. Still, it can also strain adult children and relatives who are trying to keep up with bills and additional responsibilities.
Being a caregiver is overwhelming enough, and the last thing you want to also struggle with is finances. Below are six actionable ways that caregivers and caregiving families can manage debt while caring for an aging loved one.
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Don’t Take On Someone Else’s Liabilities
Family caregivers should consider having a power of attorney or trust for their care partner. Everyone needs to prepare proper legal documentation. A power of attorney makes you a fiduciary, which separates your finances from the action you take on behalf of your care partner. You would operate as your loved one’s agents so that their financial commitments do not fall on you. Signing contracts on behalf of your loved ones without power of attorney may leave you responsible for the expenses.
Explore All Options
Look for government benefits and assistance. Explore Medicaid, Veteran Affairs (VA) benefits, and Social Security Disability Benefits. Try research foundations and nonprofits specific to your loved one’s condition. Look for grants or programs that may assist with out-of-pocket costs, insurance, or transportation costs. Try the national Eldercare Locator and community-based services that may help with meals, utility payments, or respite care.
Ask For Help
Asking for help can save you stress, time, and money. Have a trusted friend or advisor to help you review complicated medical bills. Understand what the bill means and what the patient must pay out-of-pocket.
Don’t Ignore Bills
Communicate with creditors when you are unable to pay. Interest, late, and collection fees can make debt get out of hand. You can also end up being sued by a debt collector. Judgments against you can result in wage garnishment.
Manage Debt After Death
Once your loved one passes, pay attention to any bills that arrive. Check to see if these bills should be paid through your state’s probate procedure. Be sure that you are obligated to pay it. If your name is not on it, you may not be obligated to pay it through your accounts.
Contact a financial professional such as a consumer advocate or bankruptcy attorney if you project debts accumulating beyond your control. Do not wait until it is a last resort. Many advocates or attorneys will review your options with you. Bankruptcy may not be the solution if your debt can be handled another way. Professionals may help you develop a plan of action to help.
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Caring for an aging parent or loved one is no small job; it is a full-time, unpaid job. Everyone wants to ensure that their loved one has a long and happy life, but you can’t do it all by yourself. That’s why it is crucial to make sure you and your loved one are prepared ahead of time. If you keep our tips in mind, you will be sure to have a much smoother transition into caregiving.