A Caregiver's Guide: Money Matters After Illness

A Caregiver's Guide: Money Matters After Illness

During everyday conversations, we all respect that an individual’s financial situation is a very personal matter. We do not ask how much someone makes, or how much money they donate to charities. Next to religion and politics, money is definitely one of the more sensitive topics to approach. As a child of an aging parent, we walk a fine line when discussing your parent’s preparation for retirement.  As a caregiver to an aging parent or family member who has experienced a recent illness or injury, you may find yourself having an uncomfortable talk about their finances and the future.

If your loved one has been living independently, you most likely respected their privacy and assumed they were managing their money just as they always have. They raised you and supported your family without your input, so you may assume that nothing has changed. Unfortunately, with age and illness can come memory loss, hearing and vision problems, and feelings of impending mortality, all of which can turn a Medicare beneficiary’s finances upside-down.

Your parent or loved one may have experienced a sudden illness or injury, or a slower deterioration of their health, that has prompted the need for a conversation about hospital bills, medical expenses, or even long-term care needs.  You may be surprised by what you find.  You may find yourself in the uncomfortable position of having to go through your parent’s finances and help them re-evaluate their budget, reconsider their monthly expenditures, and perhaps, even have a difficult conversation about their judgment.

Medicare beneficiaries, especially those living alone, can sometimes be targets for scams or fraud that can drain a bank account. For instance, your parent may have been paying bills for services or supplies they never received. When you delve into the current state of their finances, you may find that their generosity has been taken advantage of, as well. If you find that your loved one has been giving more than they can afford to charities, have an honest conversation about it. With age can come a sense of mortality and a desire to leave behind a meaningful legacy, but unfortunately, there are people who will abuse the generosity of seniors.

Once you are able to get a clear picture of your loved one’s financial situation, you can help them make informed, thoughtful decisions regarding the future. If your parent falls within a low-income and resources category, they may qualify for Extra Help with the cost of prescription drugs and/or assistance from their state. Once you have all the facts and can evaluate your parent’s options, you can help them make the choices that will be best for them.