Caring for Your Chronically Ill Family Member- Are You Prepared?

Taking care of an elderly or chronically ill family member is a major commitment in terms of time, money, and emotion. Are you prepared to handle the stresses before you’re caught off guard?Each day, millions of Americans discover that an aging relative or friend needs help. It can mean planning for more services and assistance to get them through their daily lives, or it can mean dealing with a sudden and serious health crisis.

The costs of each stage of care can be shockingly high. If you take the time to go over your options before you need to use them, it can make a huge difference—a chance to plan is a chance to spend and save smarter.

So many parents face a weighty triangle of expenses in middle age—college tuition for the kids, elder-care costs for parents and other relatives, and, of course, the responsibility of saving for retirement. An overview of how you stand financially in these three key areas can help you make plans going forward.

Here are some general ideas to consider in managing the costs:

Start by evaluating your finances. If you have time and a good rapport with whom you are dealing (spouse, partner, or family member) you have a valuable opportunity to settle a lot of important details. If there’s not a pending emergency, it’s a good idea to schedule a family meeting to make sure you understand what assets you have and how you want those assets applied to long-term care. Even if an elderly relative is older but in relatively good health, it might make sense to check the cost of long-term care insurance as a backstop for your savings. The premiums will definitely cost more—sometimes considerably more—than the average 50-year-old would pay, but depending on your situation, such a move might make sense.

Make sure key documents are in place. It’s also important that you have your critical documents in place, such as a current will, relevant legal and health powers of attorney, and any written instructions relevant to his/her care, funeral wishes, and property issues. All that information should be stored in an agreed-upon place that all key decision makers can get to easily.

Start researching care options now. In every community, there are guides to various community programs, assisted-living centers, and nursing homes. These are generally good places to start gathering information on possible locations and services you might need and to start comparing costs. The worst time to gather this information is after crisis that requires an immediate decision. It might be best to work with the ill person in selecting these services if he or she is willing to do visits and compare features. It might also make sense to hire the services of a certified geriatric care manager to help assess proper care options and review insurance options to make sure those services are paid for.

Make sure the care option fits the stage of health as well as the budget. Home health aides obviously allow an ill person to stay in the home and have company when traveling outside, but adult day care can be a cheaper option. Also, part-time caretakers can handle key tasks and supervision as needed—keep in mind that responsible college students need money more than ever and can help with grocery shopping, cleaning, meal preparation, and supervision on health issues that medical personnel don’t always need to be present for.

Once the clock starts, be prepared to negotiate. Remember that various assisted-living and nursing facilities have turnover and that if a center isn’t full to capacity, there might be wiggle room on rates and fees. Also, key cost drivers can be basic items you might never think about—tissues, toiletries, wipes, adult diapers, laundry service, and other support items that residents use in these facilities either individually or with help. Buying or supplying these items from outside the facility may save a considerable amount of money.

Consider shared rooms if money is tight. Private rooms are expensive in any setting, and it always makes sense to check the shared-room option in a facility as a way to save money. Of course, make sure the rooms—and roommate—are acceptable to the family member.

Consider meeting with a Financial Advisor like Reesa Manning. CLICK HERE  for her listing in the PRO WELLNESS VILLAGE

She’s new to the WELLNESS VILLAGE and the commitment to her career as a financial advisor is based on real-life understanding of the economic curveballs that life can throw. Reesa’s expertise and interest is in helping couples manage their finances. When one partner passes the other is well prepared to make the transition into flying solo

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