Caring for an older adult comes with many costs. To ease the financial stress, LendingTree shares four often-overlooked sources of financial assistance that could help you care for your older adult as well as the best time to use them.
Many of us see our caregiving responsibilities as a privilege – but they can certainly be stressful too.
One major reason why: the costs involved.
Fortunately, there’s help available – though it can take some time and research to figure out where to look.
“There’s all these fragmented services and programs, and it can get very discouraging,” says Denise Brown, founder of Caregiving.com (sold in 2020), professional caregiving coach and consultant for LifeStation. “Just know that there’s help.”
That’s why we’ve put together this list of four often-overlooked sources of financial assistance that could help you care for your older adult with at least a little bit less worry.
1. Nutrition assistance programs for seniors
For many families, the cost of groceries is one of the largest budget line-items – even before they’re responsible for caring for an aging adult.
According to the latest data from the USDA, feeding a person over 71 years old will cost more than $200 per month, if you’re being thrifty.
But there are many nutrition assistance programs geared towards seniors, from SNAP benefits to the Child and Adult Care Food Program and beyond.
And, of course, Meals on Wheels and other food delivery programs are also great resources.
Even if you take matters into your own hands, you can pay with a cashback rewards credit card, which pays back a small percentage of your spend, to put some of your grocery money back in your pocket.
Certain cards offer higher rewards for grocery spending – just make sure you pay off the card in full each and every month to avoid eclipsing your rewards with interest payments.
When to use nutrition assistance programs:
Saving on groceries is always a priority for families, even before caregiving begins.
So if your older adult is eligible for SNAP benefits and other nutritional assistance, there’s no reason not to take advantage of it as soon as possible.
2. Workplace benefits for family caregivers
Depending on your workplace, you may have benefits that could help you support your senior care receiver, says Brown.
If you have access to one, it’s worth calling your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to see if any discounts on caregiving products or services are available to you and your family.
In addition, EAPs often offer counseling services, with providers available specializing in grief, stress and family problems – all of which could come in handy when it comes to becoming a caregiver.
Taking good care of yourself is just as important as taking care of your loved one, and on the private market, counseling services may be prohibitively expensive.
When to use workplace benefits:
If you have access to an EAP through your workplace, it’s worth looking into these services sometime toward the beginning of your journey as a caregiver (or now, if you haven’t already).
They can help you save money and also help you adjust to the challenges of this new lifestyle.
3. Disease-specific organizations
But Brown suggests families reach out to disease-specific organizations even sooner: “As soon as there’s a diagnosis,” she advises.
The next step would be the care receiver’s health insurance and other benefits, and finally, community resources – which are also too often overlooked.
For instance, the Alzheimer’s Association offers a free e-course that will help you make both financial and legal plans for your loved one as well as offer information on community-level resources that might be available in your area.
Furthermore, an organization that deals specifically with the health issue you’re facing will offer pointed insights and support you might not find elsewhere.
When to use disease-specific organizations:
Although specific financial assistance options will vary, it’s a good idea to get connected with any disease-specific organizations you can as soon as you have a verified diagnosis, Brown says.
4. Home equity
If you or your care-receiving loved one is lucky enough to own your own home, you may be able to leverage your home equity to help pay for the cost of senior care.
While there are many ways to go about this, home equity lines of credit are a popular option as they offer relatively low interest rates (compared to credit cards, for example) and long repayment periods (up to 20 years) that allow lots of time to pay back the balance.
That said, do proceed with caution.
An heir who inherits the home could be immediately responsible for repaying the debt all at once upon the original homeowner’s death.
As with all major money decisions, it’s worth talking to a financial advisor before committing either way.
When to use home equity:
While leveraging home equity might be a relatively accessible and affordable way to fund elder care, it can still be risky – so consider searching out all other viable options before turning to this one.
Be open to different forms of assistance
At the end of the day, just remember: caregiving is tough work. “You are not making it hard. It is this hard,” Brown says.
By building your support system as soon as possible and being open to even surprising forms of aid, you can make life just a little bit easier – on yourself and on your care-receiving loved one.
Recommended for you:
- Getting Paid as a Family Caregiver: 3 Government Benefits Programs
- Financial Help for Seniors: 2,500+ Federal, State, & Private Benefits Programs
- The Ultimate Guide to Senior Veterans Benefits
Guest contributor: Callie McGill is a content manager at LendingTree. Covering an array of personal finance topics, she works hard to provide unique viewpoints that empower people to make their best financial decisions. Callie earned her B.A. from Penn State University and her work has been published on major networks like Yahoo! and MSN.
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