AMES, Iowa – As their parents and other relatives grow older, many adults may be adding the role of caregiver to already busy lives. It’s better to plan for this situation than to wait for a crisis to occur, says Susan Taylor, a human sciences specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
“Unfortunately, for many people, a crisis comes first,” Taylor said. “For example, a friend of mine was on vacation out of state. She was hiking, lost her balance, fell and broke both wrists. Her husband took care of her with help from friends. Theirs was a short-term caregiving situation while her broken bones healed.”
However, for many families a crisis becomes a long-term need for care and brings significant financial consequences for the caregivers, said Taylor, who specializes in family finance.
ISU Extension and Outreach offers “The Finances of Caregiving” to help families with a variety of financial issues related to providing care for a loved one. Taylor and other human sciences specialists who specialize in family finance teach this series of five, two-hour workshops.
“When you’re caring for a loved one, you may have to work fewer hours or even quit your job if you can’t get a flexible schedule. Then what do you do about your family’s financial needs or your retirement? ‘The Finances of Caregiving’ will help you examine your current situation, understand your options and make the choices that are best for you and your loved one,” Taylor said.
The workshops cover the importance of planning ahead; wills, living wills and durable power of attorney for health care and financial matters; planning financially for caregiving; paying for care; and effective communication.
“It is important to plan ahead while your loved one still has the capacity to understand and sign legal documents. It is also important to involve all members of your family so that everyone clearly understands your loved one’s wishes,” Taylor said.
“My parents are getting older, and recently my sister and I began talking with them about their wishes. As a result, we went to the local bank to add our signatures to their safe deposit box. We needed to show proof of address and our driver’s licenses, and provide our Social Security numbers. This is one of the first steps in understanding a parent’s finances,” Taylor said.
“Understanding your choices means knowing your current situation,” Taylor said. “This program guides you through finding and collecting that information. You can be ready before a crisis occurs.”
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