It’s hard to watch our parents get older, but the time inevitably comes when we must assume responsibility and provide our parents with the care and love they bestowed on us for so many years. If your parent has reached the age in which they require a caretaker and you’re considering taking on the role, make sure you consider these aspects first.
You’ll need to keep detailed records and organize important medical information if you hope to provide the best in care for your parent. As their caregiver, you’ll be responsible for recording and making sure they get to all of their appointments on time. Write down their doctors’ names, phone numbers, addresses, and any other pertinent information. You’ll also want to keep a detailed calendar listing all of their appointment dates to make sure they’re getting the professional medical attention they need.
Make lists of all of the insurance policies your parent has, which likely includes Medicare numbers for both Part A and Part B, MediGap Supplementary Insurance policies, Medicare Parts C and D, life insurance, and any other plans they may have. It’s something no one likes to think about, but you may need to consider funeral insurance. If your parent doesn’t have life insurance, and hasn’t saved for burial expenses, you’d be wise to check in with a burial insurance company to examine some of your policy options. Funerals can cost upwards of $10,000 these days, and families saddled with these expenses often find themselves in dire financial straits during a time of mourning.
The Finances Involved
End of life care isn’t cheap, and if you never expected to be helping to provide for your elderly parent, you may not be prepared for these costs. Government programs don’t always provide the amount of funding one might expect, and there are checks and balances in place that may prevent your parent from accessing expected funds. For example, if your father or mother receives Veterans benefits, they may not be eligible to receive Medicaid government assistance in certain states – even if the benefits aren’t enough to cover even basic living costs.
You’ll need to talk to your parent about all of their finances. This can include assets, pensions, investments, and retirement accounts, amongst other things. You’ll need to take a look at their current annual income in order to make your own budget. Don’t be surprised if your parent is hesitant or even resistant to share this information; this is a large step in losing independence, and it may be a tough transition for them to cope with initially.
Regardless of your parent’s situation, you may find yourself scrambling to cover the costs of their care. There are ways to raise money for such costs, including estate sales in which you clear out your parents’ home of unnecessary items, like furniture. If your parent is no longer driving, you may choose to sell their car, and if they’re moving in with you, you may be able to sell your house. Remember, though, that these changes can be traumatic, and it’s important to consider their feelings before making decision and have open communication with your parent to help ease the transition.
The government does provide certain tax breaks for individuals who take on the role of caregiver for an elderly parent. As money can be tight after beginning care for an aging loved one, this tax relief can do wonders for your budget and help you provide the utmost in comfort and care during your parent’s final years. You may be able to claim your parent as a dependent on your taxes, which will provide significant deductions, and you may also be qualified to deduct certain medical expenses. You’ll have to meet numerous requirements to qualify for these tax breaks; you must provide over half of your parent’s financial support for housing, food, transportation, medical bills, and more, along with a host of other qualifications.
Do You Have the Time?
Your kneejerk response may be “Of course I have time for my parent.” Unfortunately, this situation isn’t always so cut and dried. If you have a job outside of your home, you’ll need to ensure your boss will understand your situation and provide essential concessions. You’ll likely have days where you must come in late, leave early, or take breaks in order to ensure your parent is getting the care needed. You’ll be transforming your schedule to fit their needs, and there’s quite a bit of selflessness that goes into this endeavor. Many caretakers find it’s best to make care giving their full-time role, while pursuing part time work online or through other sources.
There’s a lot to think about before making the decision to become your aging parent’s caretaker. Keep these aspects of the role in mind and make sure this decision is what’s best for both you and your senior parent.