Securing the Strength to Serve – Financial Perspective (Day 3)

heap of dollars with stethoscope.

Welcome back!  Today I want to mention a few things that are important in reference to financial issues while being a caregiver.  I realize I have been coming at this series from the perspective of a child caring for their parent.  That is my experience.  But many times the caregiver is the spouse. Today’s post will touch on both. In fact, some of this information is vital even if you are NOT currently a caregiver.  Let me explain.

Long Term Care Insurance                                                                                                                 

I had never heard of LTC insurance untill a few years ago when my father told my siblings and I that he and my mother were getting a policy. He did not want financial burden put on his children and he was thinking ahead for the two of them as well. To be honest, the matter made me uneasy, and I chose not to think about it unless he brought it up.  No one wants to think about their parent in a nursing home! I do hope you will read this and not turn away from the topic like I chose to do.  This discussion should be had BEFORE the insurance will be needed.

My initial thoughts about LTC insurance were in error.  I thought it was solely about skilled nursing facilities and my mother did NOT want to ever end up in one.  LTC Insurance is insurance where you pay into it when you are younger, in order that it be available to you should you need it for long term medical care when you are older.  None of us know the future and the possibility DOES exist that you will never use it.  Hard to swallow, I know.  But I personally think it is too risky NOT to consider it.

LTC insurance is not solely for covering the expenses of a skilled nursing facility.  It can also be used for home nursing care.  Regardless, unless you are independently wealthy, you will likely need assistance paying for this care.  Presently, in NC at least, a skilled nursing facility will cost you an average of $6000 a month.  Is your jaw on the floor?  LTC insurance generally pays out $100 a day.  That would cover half the amount for the nursing facility.  The family will be required to make up for the other $3000 a month.

In our situation, we chose to hire an agency to send CNA’s (Certified Nursing Assistants) to help us care for my mother.  Through an agency, CNA fees can be anywhere from $18 to $20 an hour.  We needed someone for a few hours a day to give us both the break that would save our sanity.  LTC insurance still pays out $100 a day, so we hired our CNA for 5 hours a day initially.  We had to increase that amount closer to the time she died, but initially, that was sufficient.  In that instance, the funds from the LTC Insurance fully covered what we needed.  So there are financial benefits to keeping a loved one home vs a facility, but I realize that is not an option for everyone.

All of this to say, find out if your parents have this insurance.  If they do, find out what needs to be done to access the funds.  There is a good bit of paperwork involved to get things going, so it’s better to know ahead of time.  Also, consider getting some for yourself now, while you are younger.  The younger you are, the lower the cost.

Now some other suggestions that may help save you or your loved ones some money.

  • I found myself frequently needing to purchase things for my parents, to enable my father to stay at home with my mother.  I also ordered online any time I could.  Keeping up with receipts and how much someone owes you can be tedious, so my father decided to have an additional credit card issued on his account with my name on it.  That made purchases so much easier!  In fact, I’m still using the card for purchases of things he needs online (Amazon).  I simply change which card the item is to be charged to and have it shipped to his house rather than my own.
  • You may be aware of this already, but Amazon is pretty much a one stop shop for a large majority of items.  Having an Amazon Prime account will not only give you the great prices available on Amazon, it will also give you free shipping.  Reviews of each item are available for researching so you will know you are getting the most for your money.
  • Always check with Medicare to see if they will cover an item.  They did cover quite a lot of thing that surprised me.  They may not always cover 100% but every little bit helps.
  • If you have called in Hospice, ask them!  Anytime we felt a piece of equipment was needed, our nurse knew if it would be covered by Medicare, by Hospice or if it was up to us.  She was a wealth of information and saved us from making several unnecessary purchases.

There are many things that can save you money in general, but for the purpose of this article, I have chose to cover things that pertain to the situation at hand.  Being a caregiver is difficult in and of itself.  There is no need to add financial stress to an already stressful situation.

Tomorrow, Day 4, I will address your social life.  “What’s that?”, you ask?  You still need one!

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