Pulling out a debit card or simply spending money is a pretty easy task, right? Sometimes it’s too easy and if you don’t pay attention to what you’re spending and what you’re buying, you could be putting your family budget in jeopardy.
Here are some budgeting tips for seniors, or anyone for that matter!
- Know how much money you have coming in and from what sources in order know what you have to live on in order to put together a budget.
- List all of your expenses, from utilities to gas for your vehicle or other transportation expenses to groceries to what you spend for online shopping. In many cases, we shop online and it is so easy to simply push a button to purchase that we don’t consider that as an outlay of cash. Go through a month or two of your expenses from all sources and make note of them. It may be eye opening. Add medical expenses that include your prescription medication costs as well as insurance and doctor visits into your list of expenses.
- Look at your income and expenses and see if you have any extra money. If you do, sock it away in a savings account. Even if you’re only saving $50 a month, it will add up. This additional savings amount is something you should guard zealously. When you have a nice nest egg you can decide what to do with it. Perhaps you’re saving for a long awaited vacation or you need new furniture or you simply want to keep saving it for a cushion in the event your expenses outpace your income.
There are myriad online budgeting programs you can use, but don’t get bogged down in technology. Grab a notebook and label it household budget and begin tracking it that way. Writing it down will truly help you know what happens with your money on a monthly basis. You may be pleasantly surprised!
There are close to 50 million Americans with conditions that limit the daily activities in some fashion, according to the Department of Health and Aging. The report further finds more than 10 million individuals aren’t able to live independently. One in five seniors over the age of 85 are in need of long-term care and help with everyday tasks ranging from cooking meals, feeding themselves and taking care of personal hygiene. As boomers continue to age, the need for caregivers increases so adults with aging parents will at some point have to make a decision to either hire an in-home caregiver or find a place for them to age with full or limited assistance.
When you’ve reached the point where you simply need to admit that you need help caring for an aging relative, here are seven tips to consider:
- Determine your needs before beginning the search for a caregiver. Does your aging relative need specialized care like physical therapy or pain and medication management? Will you need to bring in a non-medically trained individual to help with meal preparation, personal hygiene tasks and dressing or does your relative need a companion? Will you want the caregiver to provide light housekeeping, help running errands or bill paying? List all of the items you believe you will need help with.
- Begin the search for a healthcare provider by asking friends, church members and the physician’s office. Check with senior care agencies in your area as well for advice and referrals.
- Before interviewing caregivers, write a job description for him or her. Include the amount of health care training you believe the individual will need; it may be a good idea to speak to your relative’s physician for advice in this area. Once you’ve created a job description, work up a contract that fits the job description and come up with an hourly wage that fits into your budget.
- Put together a list of questions for the candidates. Make certain you write down their answers, collect a resume from them and note your first impressions. You should also have the potential caregiver meet your aging parent as well.
- Gather a list of references from potential health caregivers you are considering. You are leaving your aging relative in the care of this individual and you need to make certain you have made the best possible choice. Even though you may need to hire help quickly, you need to hire thoughtfully to ensure the person you hire had the necessary skill set to care for your loved one.
- Ongoing monitoring of your aging loved one’s health should be a priority for the family. You may be hiring a healthcare giver to offer you respite, but you still need to monitor the care the senior in your life is receiving. Make time to meet with the caregiver at the home on a weekly basis, at the least to gauge progress and how the caregiver and your relative are getting along.
Make certain the caregiver also understands the importance of the home medical alert system that you have for your parent. Regardless of the amount of time both you and the caregiver spend in the home, the medical alert device offers peace of mind for those times when neither of you are in attendance.
Having a discussion about money with your parents is one of those subjects that most adult children dread. While it’s uncomfortable for both child and parent alike, financial issues need to be discussed as you take a more active role in their care.
As parents age, they face the potential of having to move into an assisted living facility or a nursing home and because of this, candid discussions need to be held regarding the state of your parents’ financial affairs. Because it’s likely that your parents don’t want to consider a move into an assisted living facility, one way to help them age in place is to talk with them about purchasing a home medical alert device. These devices provide your aging relatives with a medical alert pendant that can be activated in the event of a trip or fall accident or other health emergency in the home. These devices are also a cost effective way to provide peace of mind for all members of the family.
In the event though, that your parents are unable to live alone or if they suffer a fall and need to spend time in a rehabilitation facility, you need to be aware of the state of their finances before this becomes necessary. The time to discuss money is before your family is in the midst of a health crisis. Taking time to talk with your parents about their savings, their monthly debt and their assets as well as where their financial information is kept and what banks, attorneys or accountants they use is crucial to your ability to help them in the time of need. Depending on the age and health of your parents, you may also want to be proactive in working with them on preparing a will, a healthcare proxy and even power of attorney paperwork. Planning ahead will eliminate confusion and allow a family member to seamlessly step in and make certain your parent’s bills are paid and that you have access to their financial records if you have to make difficult decisions.
Here are five tips to consider before your aging relatives are in need of long term care or medical assistance:
- Make certain you understand the differences between Medicaid and Medicare and what each of these programs will pay for. Also, make certain your aging relatives are receiving these benefits if they are eligible.
- Begin looking into the long term care and assisted living facilities in your area in the event one is needed.
- Speak with your parent’s legal and financial team if they have one. You will want to understand how a stay in an assisted living or nursing home will impact their finances – especially the finances of the parent who may be able to remain in the home.
- Check with your own employer to gauge the policy on taking time off to care for an aging relative. Consider too, how taking time off from work, transporting your relatives to doctor’s appointments, etc. will impact your own finances.
- Talk with your family members and come up with a plan for long term care needs for your aging relatives. Work out a schedule as to who will assist with caregivin
While these conversations may be difficult to initiate, you need to be prepared prior to an emergency situation; operating from a crisis mode only adds to the inherent stress of the situation.