Financial Planning Tips for Senior Home Care
There’s no denying that home care makes life easier for both an aging senior and his or her family. But sometimes there’s a matter of financing. Fortunately, most people have options to finance the care of a loved one, whether the senior is eligible for help through Medicaid, Veteran’s Administration (VA) programs, insurance, local benefits or private financing. This guide to financing senior home care should offer some helpful advice.
Before you start phoning around looking for funding, there is a great deal of planning to be done. Having all the information available and a significant financial plan ready can make the process so much easier, which means you can get on with the more important job of ensuring your loved one has the very best care, both from you and the new professional caregiver.
Talk to the Family
Now that your loved one needs a little more help, it's even more critical that everyone in the family be on the same page. Navigating someone else's finances is tricky, mainly if your loved one has started to decline mentally, and the knowledge needed is very often spread amongst the immediate family. Maybe you know where the will is, but your sister is the only one who knows the details of the pension. Get together and share that knowledge.
It’s also important to talk about your loved one’s condition and what kind of commitment each of you can offer as a caregiver. If you know what you can cover between everyone, you can work out your senior’s needs and how much that might cost. When planning, you’ll want to be realistic about caring for your senior loved one: everyone needs a break from caregiving now and then.
It can also be good to talk in advance about what might happen should funding help not be available, who would be able to contribute what and how often.
Talk to Your Loved One as a FamilyOnce you talk to the family and establish a consensus on an action plan, you should talk to your parent or loved one together. It’s also never too early to ask your loved one’s wishes. Should a decline happen suddenly, your loved one may become unable to discuss these issues sooner than you think.
Gather DocumentationAlong the way, you may need:
- Proof of identity – birth certificate, passport, driving license, Social Security number. You may have to prove your loved one’s age to show eligibility for benefits.
- A will – which will explain what happens to the estate should your loved one die and may state his or her wishes and provisions towards a funeral.
- Proof of power of attorney – where a family member or trusted loved one can manage a senior's assets on behalf of a senior who is unable.
- Insurance information – both life insurance and health insurance, plus information about Medicare or Medicaid eligibility. If your loved one has long-term care insurance, this will most likely cover any care needed. Forbes estimates that only around 10% of seniors do.
- Benefits information – Such as Veteran’s benefits, or other benefits gained through your loved one’s career.
- Deeds/proofs of ownership – Deeds to your senior’s home, if owned, a car, or any other items that might have significant financial significance.
- Bank accounts/investments/pensions – Proof of income and financial reserves will likely be necessary to prove eligibility for benefits. Tax returns might be needed to verify income.
- Proof of outgoings such as a mortgage, insurance payments or credit card payments. These may also be needed to show eligibility.
- A living will – what your loved one would like to happen if he or she becomes too ill to consent to medical procedures. This may state whether your loved one wants to be resuscitated if he or she stops breathing or whether he or she would accept blood transfusions.
Talk to a LawyerMany legal issues could arise during a loved one’s elder years. An Elder Law Attorney is specialized and possibly more equipped to help with problems that might arise. This attorney will likely understand issues around funding care and could be able to offer more advice. An Elder Law Attorney will be able to help:
- Make sure that your loved one has a valid will or estate plan
- Create a power of attorney
- Appoint a legal guardian if necessary
- Consult on a living will