If you are, or will be, a caregiver for elderly parents or another close family member living with Alzheimer’s disease, you may experience some emotional stress. But you also need to be aware of the financial issues involved and what actions you can take to help address them.
You will find few “off the rack” solutions for dealing with the financial challenges associated with Alzheimer’s. For one thing, family situations can vary greatly, both in terms of the financial resources available and in the availability and capabilities of potential caregivers.
Furthermore, depending on the stage of the disease, people living with Alzheimer’s may have a range of cognitive abilities, which will affect the level of care needed.
Here are some general suggestions that may be useful to you in your role as caregiver:
Consult with family members and close friends
It’s extremely hard to be a solo caregiver. By consulting with other family members or close friends, you may find that some of them have the time and ability to help.
Consider obtaining durable power of attorney
If you possess a durable power of attorney for finances, you can make financial decisions for the person with Alzheimer’s when he or she is no longer able.
With this authority, you can help the individual living with the disease – and your entire family – avoid court actions that can take away control of financial affairs. And on a short-term basis, having durable power of attorney can help you take additional steps if needed.
You’ll find it much easier to acquire durable power of attorney when the individual living with Alzheimer’s is still in the early stage of the disease and can willingly and knowingly grant you this authority.
Gather all necessary documents.
You’ll be in a better position to help the individual living with Alzheimer’s if you have all the important financial documents – bank statements, insurance policies, wills, Social Security payment information, deeds, etc. – in one place.
Get professional help
You may want to consult with an attorney, who can advise you on establishing appropriate arrangements, such as a living trust, which provides instructions about the estate of the person for whom you’re providing care and names a trustee to hold title to property and funds for the beneficiaries.
You also might want to meet with a financial advisor, who can help identify potential resources and money-saving services. And a tax professional may be able to help you find tax deductions connected to your role as caregiver.
Finally, use your experience as a caregiver to reminder yourself of the importance of planning for your own needs.
For example, a financial professional can suggest ways of preparing for the potentially huge costs of long-term care, such as those arising from an extended stay in a nursing home.
Caring for an individual living with Alzheimer’s has its challenges. But by taking the appropriate steps, you can reduce uncertainties – and possibly give yourself and your family members a greater sense of security and control.