Around 53 million Americans have served as unpaid caregivers to an adult within the last 12 months.1
Studies have shown time and time again that caregiving can affect someone’s mental, physical, and financial health. If you’re becoming a caregiver to a loved one, there are resources available to help reduce the burden on you while getting your loved one the care they need.
We understand that caregiving can be incredibly overwhelming, even more so if you or your loved one has recently moved to a new location. If you’re new to the Charleston area and serving as a caretaker for a parent, we’ve identified a few valuable resources and tips to lend a helping hand.
If you’re looking for more one-on-one guidance during this time, please feel free to reach out to our team. We’d be happy to learn more about your situation and discuss your options.
First, Create a Caregiving Plan That Works for You and Your Loved One
Caring for an aging parent may come with many complex family dynamics. Your loved one may be resistant to help or embarrassed to admit their decline in health. And as a child, it can be challenging to approach a parent when you believe help is needed.
Things can get even more uncomfortable if you’re attempting to care for an in-law or have siblings who disagree with your decision to step in.
As you begin exploring the process of caring for an aging loved one, it’s essential to set expectations early and be upfront. Have the conversation, no matter how uncomfortable it may be, so that all parties can better understand where the other is coming from.
How Hands-On Do You Want to Be?
Determine how hands-on you’d like to be in the care of your loved one as soon as possible. Start by considering how becoming a caregiver will impact your day-to-day life:
- Will you need to cut back your hours at work?
- Would you have to move closer to care for your parent?
- Is there someone you can rely on, like another family member or a professional, to take the lead?
Facing the realities of caregiving head-on helps to establish realistic expectations for yourself upfront. If you’re not willing or able to reduce your hours and income, then you know you need to develop a plan that includes the help of other loved ones, an outside professional, or a care facility.
Remember to Care for Yourself
Caring for yourself and your needs first can be hard, but it’s a pivotal way to reduce caregiver burnout while providing the best care for your loved one.
Whether you choose to be a full- or part-time caregiver, it’s a significant endeavor. It’s easy to get lost in the thick of it and forget to care for yourself. Maintain your time and space, and remember to prioritize participating in activities that bring you joy.
Have Serious Conversations About the Finances
As a society, we’ve become more comfortable talking about money. But as older adults, it’s likely your parents still view the topic as taboo. Unfortunately, money plays a significant role in caregiving, and you can’t avoid the conversation forever.
We understand that talking with your parents about money won’t be easy, but we can help make a plan to navigate the topic in an approachable and productive way.
Money and Caregiving
The majority of caregivers suffer a considerable financial impact. In fact, a recent study found that around 65% of caregivers use some of their own money to cover the costs of care for a loved one.2 This means that some caregivers are hit financially in two ways: they must reduce their income by cutting hours at work and use their savings to care for a loved one.
If you’re considering hiring a company or individual to provide in-home care, it’s important to know how much that could cost. The average cost of an in-home care professional in Charleston is about $21.50 an hour.3 Say you have someone come to care for your parent for 20 hours a week. That’ll add up to about $2,000 a month, or over $20,000 per year.
Paying out of your own pocket for professional caregiving can become an immense financial burden that could significantly impact your long-term goals and financial well-being. In some cases, you may find that your parent has established a provisional plan for long-term care, which would lessen the financial strain caregiving would put on you.
What Provisions Does Your Loved One Have?
To help cover the costs of caring for a loved one, start looking into what assets or policies they have that can help, including retirement assets like 401(k) or IRAs, HSAs, long-term care insurance, cash reserves, etc.
From there, you’ll need to figure out how much your parent’s assets or policies will be able to cover their caregiving expenses. Understanding what they already have in place will help determine how much you and/or other family members could have to contribute.
In addition, knowing how much your loved one has can help answer other important questions, including where they’ll live once they’re no longer independent.
- Will they live with you?
- What happens to their house?
- Would you have a caregiver come into their home?
- Do they want to move into a care facility?
While every situation is different, selling their home and having them move in with you may be a cost-effective option, especially if they have little in the way of assets or savings. But that would put far more emotional and mental strain on your plate.
Talk with your loved ones, spouse, and relatives to develop a solution that will work best for everyone involved. Remember to give yourself and your family grace during this transition.
Consider All Available Options and Resources
Caring for an aging loved one is a full-time job, and there are so many resources you can tap to help make it easier. There are several federal, state, and local resources we encourage caregivers to pursue. Let’s take a look at a few.
If your loved one was in the military, get in touch with the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs. The VA offers a VA Caregiver Support Program for veterans. Depending on eligibility, this program provides varying levels of support for veterans and their families.
If your loved one has a disability, look into Supplemental Security Income through the Social Security Administration.
For all other federal resources, USA.gov provides important links that we recommend reading through.
State & Local
For those living in Charleston, consider connecting with Charleston Area Senior Citizens and Lowcountry Senior Center. These two organizations are dedicated to the well-being of Charleston’s older community members and may be able to assist in providing care relief or resources for caregivers of aging loved ones.
The state of South Carolina also offers a caregiver support system residents can utilize.
If you’re looking for in-home care assistance, some local businesses include:
Build Ongoing Care for Aging Parents Into Your Financial and Personal Plan
We understand the immense burden caring for an aging parent or loved one can have on your mental, physical and financial health. It can be emotionally trying to see your parent decline in health, especially if you’re embarking on the caregiving process alone.
While you care for your aging parents, we want to make sure your financial and personal health is also being cared for. Anytime you need us, we’re here to lend our support.
If you’d like to include caregiving in your financial plan, or if you have questions about the impacts of caring for a loved one, don’t hesitate to reach out.
1The National Alliance for Caregiving
Partners in Financial Planning provides tax-focused, comprehensive, fee-only financial planning and investment management services. With locations in Salem, Virginia and Charleston, South Carolina, our team is well-equipped to serve clients both locally and nationally with over 100 years of combined experience and knowledge in financial services.
To learn more, visit https://partnersinfinancialplanning.com