Managing finances while caring for your sick or disabled loved one or client can be a major source of distress, especially if you are personally responsible for covering the costs when there is an insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, or savings shortfall. Usually, the extent of the financial distress is proportionate to the gap in resources available to pay for the services needed by you and your loved one. The truth is that many caregivers are dipping into their personal savings to cover an average of $5,500 per year out-of-pocket expenses. In the long run, these costs add up and can ultimately have a negative impact on your current and future financial well-being.
The Caregiver Wellness: U model?
Financial wellness is a part of the Caregiver Wellness: U model, a conceptual model that incorporates the movement toward social, psychological, physical, intellectual, spiritual, occupational, and financial wellness, while also incorporating the empowerment and resilience necessary to take charge of your health on a holistic basis.
What does it mean to be financially well?
According to the Caregiver Wellness: U model, you are financially well when you have access to adequate resources to pay for the care and special needs of a loved one, the needs of the family, and your needs as a family or professional caregiver. Components of fiscal wellness among caregivers include access to (a) insurance, (b) Medicare, (c) Medicaid, (d) Social Security, (e) retirement benefits, (f) adequate savings, (g) income from work, and (h) other resources to cover your monthly expenses and the expenses associated with providing adequate care for your loved one.
Measure your financial wellness
Please take this opportunity to evaluate your financial wellness. Following are five statements; consider each statement openly and honestly. Assign two points (2) if you agree with the statement, assign one point (1) if you somewhat agree, and do not assign any points (0) if you do not agree with the statement.
I continually worry about not having enough money to cover monthly expenses.
I do not pay myself a salary as a caregiver to be placed in a retirement account.
I have to allocate personal funds to pay for the care of my loved one.
I have noticed that my loved one is no longer able to handle financial matters.
My loved one’s income does not cover all of his or her monthly expenses.
Evaluate your financial wellness score
A score of 7 or higher may indicate that you might want to reach out to improve your financial wellness.
A score between 4 and 6 may indicate that you are doing okay with your financial wellness.
A score between 0 and 3 may indicate that you are financially well.
Three strategies to improve your financial wellness
The following are three strategies to improve your financial wellness.
Get organized. It is important to familiarize yourself with your life insurance and disability insurance plans as well as the plans for your loved one. You might also take time to learn all you can about Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance policies, even if you do not need them right now. Finally, consider investing in a long-term care insurance plan for your future needs. Please refer to the What are the Financial Considerations toolkit, a valuable resource excerpted from Caregiving in the New Millennium, that you may find helpful in getting organized. You might also visit the Patient Advocate Foundation to locate specific programs to assist you and your loved one.
Ask other caregivers about which financial resources they found to be most helpful. Coping with financial distress among caregivers is complicated. Therefore generic financial strategies that may apply to coping with general fiscal distress, such as being disciplined and delaying gratification, are not likely to resolve the problem. And other suggestions, such as enjoying things that are free, that might work for managing personal finances may seem to be empty solutions for caregivers. Therefore networking with other caregivers is a great way to identify resources that you might find helpful.
Consider working with a financial planner to plan for your future. Take time to assess your financial status and access health care with an experienced financial planner. It is important to select a financial planner who understands that a general or generic financial planning strategy is not enough for caregivers. Rather, the financial strategy should be designed so that it addresses the special needs of your loved one, other family members, and, most important, you as a caregiver.
Listen to the Caregiver Support Radio: Caregiver Wellness podcast series. Caregivers are encouraged to listen to the Caregiver Wellness: It Is Up to U podcasts. The yearlong series offered on Caregiver Support Radio will explore the nine components of caregiver wellness. Please use the following link for a full description of the show and to blog.
Managing your finances is an important aspect of your overall health and wellness. A solid financial plan will help you care for your loved one now and provide you with a strong foundation for the future.