How to Find Caregiving Support when Struggling Financially

affording care

Caregiving can be wonderfully rewarding. It can be an honor to take care of your elderly parent or loved one. Providing for them can be a satisfying experience in every sense, and can give you the peace of mind of knowing they are getting the best possible care. Caregiving can also serve to bring you closer together. The American Psychological Association tells us that 83% of caregivers viewed their time caring for a loved one as a positive experience.

However, it is entirely possible to be pleased with your caregiving role and still be under immense stress and pressure. That stress can be especially pronounced if finances are tight. The CDC reports that over a quarter of caregivers experienced moderate to high levels of financial hardship as a result of their caregiving.

Where does that financial burden come from? Some caregivers might take a leave of absence from work, decrease the hours they work outside the home, or quit their jobs altogether to give their loved ones their best caregiving efforts. The majority of caregivers – about 68% of them – contribute financially to their loved one’s care, according to a 2017 study by Merrill Lynch. These family caregivers cover things like co-pays, utilities, prescription costs, and even mortgage payments. It’s especially difficult for those who care for an elderly parent or loved one with dementia, as they tend to spend an average of 54% more than other caregivers do[1].

But what if you simply don’t have the money? Most caregivers are in their role for about five years, and spend an average of $5,000 to $20,000 per year on their loved one[2]. That money adds up fast and can drain a bank account. As a caregiver, you need help – not just in providing care itself, but in having the financial means to take care of the person you love so much.

There are some affordable solutions that can help you, such as opting for a medical alert system with fall detection that can get help fast 24/7 at just the push of a button. But there are also many less affordable realities, especially if your elderly parent begins to need more and more help.

Here are some great ways to help alleviate some of that financial burden.

Resources for Low-Income Caregivers

There are many resources out there for family caregivers. They might not cover every financial expense, but some of them are quite generous in covering much of the costs. It often takes a patchwork of help from various agencies and organizations to make ends meet. As you go through these potentials for financial assistance, remember that you don’t have to choose just one – in fact, it’s a good idea to apply to as many as you can find.

Start with Benefits Checkup, a service of the National Council on Aging. This comprehensive website requires you to enter your zip code and other general information, and then gives you details on the various benefits available in your area. You can narrow it down by exactly what you need or do a broader search just to see what’s out there. You can also choose to enter further information to get your eligibility status for a variety of programs.

Keep in mind that while these programs are designed for the elderly person who might be receiving care, they serve as strong resources for caregivers because they relieve some of the financial burden. This is especially true if your income falls below a certain threshold.

What are some of those potential programs?

·         Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Formerly known as food stamps, this program provides a certain amount of money each month to cover nutrition needs for low-income individuals. Though the amount of money might not be enough to cover all that your loved one needs, most receive enough to cover the bulk of nutritional necessities.

·         Limited Income Newly Eligible Transition (LINET) Program. This program, offered by Humana, is designed for those on Medicare who qualify for Medicaid or Extra Help and currently have no coverage for prescription drugs. This program covers the cost of prescriptions for one to two months while a senior chooses the best Medicare Part D program for their needs.

·         Patient Assistance Programs. These programs are offered by pharmaceutical companies to cover the cost of the brand-name drugs seniors need but can’t quite afford. The programs might cover a certain drug in its entirety for a time, or provide a significant discount on the cost of the drug at the pharmacy.

·         Medicare Savings Programs. There are four Medicare programs that can save you money on the costs of coverage. What is offered and the eligibility requirements are determined by your state.

·         Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy (LIS). While Medicare Part D covers some cost of prescriptions, it often doesn’t cover everything. Those who have limited income and resources can turn to this subsidy, which serves as a safety net to ensure that recipients get the prescription drugs they need to stay healthy.

·         Health Centers for Primary Care. These health centers provide primary care services and dental services to those who are eligible. Those with limited income, whether they have insurance coverage or not, might qualify. Services are provided on a sliding fee scale, which means that those who need the most assistance might get the services for free.

·         Donated Dental Services (DDS). Many dentists across the nation provide donated dental care to those who qualify, including low-income seniors. This service covers preventative care, including cleanings, as well as major dental care that can improve quality of life.

·         Meals on Wheels. This nutrition service provides one meal per day for seniors. The program targets at-risk seniors, including those who are low-income. Not only does the organization provide a nutritious meal, they also provide an extra set of eyes and assistance for those who might need it – and that can be especially helpful to the family caregiver who has to work during the day or is serving their elderly parent as best they can from a distance.

·         Home and Community Based Services. Offered to those who qualify for Medicaid, this program allows financial support for those who have certain disabilities or meet other criteria. Depending upon your state, this might include anything from a stipend for caregiving to a caregiving coach who can provide you with training to be a better advocate for your aging parents.

·         Services for Veterans. Is your parent a veteran? The local Veterans Affairs office can guide you to a variety of assistance, including opportunities for grants that allow for aging in place. Other local organizations that cater to veterans, such as the VFW, might be able to lead you in the right direction for further assistance.

·         Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). Offered to those over the age of 55 who need skilled nursing care and are covered by Medicaid and Medicare, this program is designed to keep people in their own homes instead of going to assisted care facilities. This can provide transportation, home care, doctor visits, and so much more.

You’ll notice that many of these resources focus on medical and health care for the elderly. But remember, the only thing better than finding assistance for medical costs is avoiding those costs in the first place. While you have only so much control when it comes to the overall health of your elderly parent, you do have a great deal of control in mitigating fall risks and otherwise making sure they can get the assistance they need in the event of an emergency.

That’s where a medical alert device for the elderly with fall detection comes in. If your elderly parent suffers a fall, the consequences could be dire. But if they have a medical alert button at their fingertips, they can press that button and get trained professionals on the line immediately. Besides the peace of mind and emotional support this gives the whole family, reaching out for help means that they get medical attention faster. They aren’t lying on the floor until you or someone else discovers them there, perhaps hours later. Those hours count! A personal emergency response solution (PERS device) makes sure that help is on the way fast.

Other Ways to Find Caregiving Support

These aren’t the only options for caregiving support! There are many local branches of national entities, as well as local organizations that seek to help those in the community. Here are a few places to try.

·         Department of Health and Social Services. Every community has one. Your local office can provide information on the wealth of resources in your area, including those that are specifically for seniors, and those designed with the family caregiver in mind.

·         Eldercare Locator. This comprehensive search helps you find assistance in your area, not just for your elderly loved one, but for you as a family caregiver. Their section for caregivers provides a great deal of information on a variety of resources, including those for veterans, those with low income, and those with disabilities.

·         Senior centers. These centers are available in many communities and provide low-cost or free services to the elderly. They are often home to programs that significantly benefit caregivers, such as adult day care that provides full-time caregivers a few hours to themselves while their loved one enjoys spending time with others in the senior community. You might also find respite care services here.

·         Local churches. Churches in the area are often happy to assist you with whatever you might need. Some help with transportation, meal delivery, respite care, community involvement, or providing food banks for those who can’t afford groceries and household supplies. They might also be able to work with charitable organizations to get other types of assistance, such as durable medical equipment.

·         Administration on Aging. This long-standing organization has provided caregiver support services for decades, as well as other supportive services for elderly seniors. Your local branch will be happy to assist you.

·         Long Term Care Insurance. If your parents have long term care insurance, that insurance might also include coverage for in-home caregivers. Look into the policy and determine what qualifies a person to receive those payments.

Relieving the financial burden for low-income families is vitally important, especially when you are doing your best to take care of your elderly parents or other loved ones. That burden can feel especially high if you can’t be there all the time, and you worry about them while you’re at work, running errands, or even trying to get some sleep at night.

That’s one of the many times when a medical alert pendant or wristband is a great idea. Rather than worry about what might be happening while you are away, you can be rest assured that if an emergency or accident occurs, your parent can press the button on their in-home or mobile medical alert device and get assistance at a moment’s notice. Let Alert1 help make that caregiving burden a little easier.