Caregiving for someone with dementia can come with many challenges. One of the biggest challenges is money and legal issues. Americans spend roughly $190 billion per year on their care recipients for out-of-pocket expenses. And, in order to do so, 63% of these caregivers are forced to dip into savings or sell and cash in on assets. Below, you will find 10 legal tips to help family caregivers navigate the confusing legal and financial landscape, get the necessary legal documents in order, and cope with financial challenges.
10 Legal Planning Tips For Dementia Caregivers
- Consider limiting access to financial information, especially for memory care patients. – There are some individuals that may try and take advantage of a person suffering from dementia or the person themselves can put their own funds at risk. Consider giving limited access to the person to pay small bills while holding back access to larger funds such as retirement funds, stocks, etc.
- Keep all other family members in the loop about end-of-life planning—and record their responses. – While not always an easy issue to think about, planning well in advance for end-of-life care can help protect a care recipient’s well-being and also provide peace of mind for everyone involved. People usually have strong preferences about how they would like to live in the final stages of life and what types of care they do and do not want. It is very important to involve care recipients and other family members in these conversations and decisions
- Be vigilant about possible elder abuse – There are many ways in which elders can be victims of abuse. All persons who are in the care of other individuals are susceptible to abuse. Be aware of the signs and be ready to take action.
- Encourage loved one to set up automatic payments, if possible – Automatic payments make it easier to keep up with bills. Most recurring payments can be set up for automatic withdrawal.
- Collect all access information to financial institutions. – Make copies of financial statements, including bank and credit card statements, retirement account statements, and recurring bills. Establish online access to banking and credit card accounts and watch for any unusual or fraudulent activities. Collect the names, phone numbers and account numbers for her utilities, phone, and cable/internet suppliers
- Keep original documents on hand and keep them safe – Having original copies of documentation will ensure that someone else can have access to important information. Keep a copy of the will and originals of all other documents in a secure place at home where family members can access them in emergencies during non-business hours.
- Look into state aid for caregivers. – Aid may be available from the state for elderly loved ones who are low-income and eligible for Medicaid. To learn about the financial aid programs available in your state, contact your local Medicaid office.
- Explore flexible work options – taking care of a loved one will require a lot of your time and resources. It may be beneficial for you to ask your employer about the options you have to work remotely or partially remotely.
- Learn how to use the Dependent tax break so that it works in your favor. – An individual who has someone that is dependent on them, they can can claim a $500 nonrefundable credit for dependents who do not qualify for the child tax credit, including dependents such as elderly parents. Unlike a deduction, which lowers your taxable income, a tax credit is deducted from the taxes you owe. This can result in a larger return or lessening of the amount you owe.
- Caregiver spouses of veterans should look into Aid and Attendance Benefit. – The Aid and Attendance Benefit is a program that allows for extra money to be paid in addition to monthly pension. The A&A allows for Veterans and surviving spouses who require the regular attendance of another person to assist in eating, bathing, dressing, medication management, or taking care of the needs of nature to receive additional monetary benefits. It also includes individuals who are blind or a patient in a nursing home because of mental or physical incapacity.
Taking on the financial and legal responsibilities of someone with dementia can be very daunting. Do not hesitate to ask for help when you need it. There are many loops in the system that can be difficult to navigate. It is best to be as proactive with this as possible. Orchard at Brookhaven is here to help you navigate these difficult times. If you have questions about our community or programs, please contact us to speak with someone.