Contributed by: Sandra Adams, CFP®, CeFT™
Our experience with clients at The Center has shown us that caregivers come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and circumstances...no one is like another. What we do know, however, is that being a caregiver to someone needing assistance for a physical or mental incapacity of some kind is no “walk in the park,” as they say. According to AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, there are some 40 million Americans acting as unpaid caregivers in the United States – helping parents, grandparents, spouses, relatives and neighbors with basic needs – often while working, parenting, or both. Suffice it to say, caregivers themselves experience advances levels of physical, emotional, and often financial stress as a result of their caregiving responsibilities.
What can caregivers do to help those their caring for AND help themselves?
- Understand the financial and legal situation of the person you are caring for. Understand what the financial resources are, what legal documents are in place (and where they are), and who the powers of attorney, Trustees, and important advisors are in the relationship. Knowing who is involved in helping make important decisions will be key going forward, and knowing where important documents are is invaluable (to help get this organized, find our Personal Record Keeping Document and Letter of Last Instruction document here).
- Have conversations in advance about how the person wants to be cared for. Knowing (before it’s too late) what kind of care is desired, where that care should take place, and who should perform that care, as well as other end-of-life conversations, are important talks to have. These conversations, if had earlier rather than later, can help you avoid conflicts with the person your caring for and with others (particularly if you document the results!).
Ask for help! There is absolutely no shame in calling uncle if you feel like you need assistance for any number of reasons:
Maybe you feel like you need training for some kind of caregiving you are providing that you don’t feel prepared to give
Maybe you are just overwhelmed and need additional help – from another family member or friend, a community resource, or from a paid resource – there is help out there – ASK FOR IT!
Maybe you just need a break – there are respite services available to take your loved one for a few days to care for them to give you a few days off, even if you have no one else to take over the caregiving duties; this might be just what you need to rejuvenate you and to help get you back on your feet!
We understand that being a caregiver for someone you love can pause your personal goals and plans. Our job is to help you prevent the caregiving role from permanently halting your goals and plans due to overwhelming stress. Let me be a resource when it comes to planning for and managing your caregiving role – if there is anything I can do to help, contact me at Sandy.Adams@CenterFinPlan.com.
Sandra Adams, CFP® , CeFT™ is a Partner and Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® Sandy specializes in Elder Care Financial Planning and is a frequent speaker on related topics. In addition to her frequent contributions to Money Centered, she is regularly quoted in national media publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Research Magazine and Journal of Financial Planning.
The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of Sandy Adams, CFP®, and not necessarily those of Raymond James.