Financial wellbeing, even for caregivers. . .

According to a new AARP study, three-quarters of the nation’s 48 million unpaid family caregivers who responded to their query reported spending an average of $7,242 annually on out-of-pocket costs related to caregiving.  That’s a lot of money but it clearly doesn’t reflect the additional costs of housing or memory care should your loved one need care in a facility setting. Those costs can skyrocket to $10-15K monthly depending on where you live, especially here, in Minnesota.

So, if you’re a caregiver, it is easy to feel as if your own financial wellbeing is either suffering or going to suffer under the burden of these ever-increasing costs.   How much does Financial Wellbeing contribute to caregiver stress? 

As caregivers, if our loved one has the means to contribute to the financing of their care needs, we may not personally feel this additional strain – we merely have to secure the services and see to it that bills are paid.  But if our loved one is not in a position to pay for the ever-increasing costs of care, we may feel enormously stressed to cover the costs that are incurred regularly just to keep them safe, secure and adequately cared for.

Beyond the facts related to the absolute costs, our own definition of financial wellbeing is crucial to understanding how to put all this in context.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau defines financial wellbeing as a state of being in which we…

  • Have control over day-to-day, month-to-month finances.
  • Have the capacity to absorb a financial shock.
  • Are on track to meet your financial goals; and
  • Have the financial freedom to make the choices that allow you to enjoy life.

As you evaluate your own circumstances, it may be fair to say that if you’re struggling to cover regular, recurring expenses, or feel you have little capacity to absorb the next financial calamity that comes your way, you are likely feeling VERY stressed.  Additionally, when our finances are stretched to, or beyond, the limit, we aren’t able to set let alone reach financial goals or feel as if we have much freedom to make choices about how we might enjoy life.  Financial stress is real, and many families experience it!

So what’s a caregiver to do? Honestly I’ve contemplated this challenge and I’m left with three important strategies that have helped me (and hopefully may help you) every step of this journey.  They are:

  • Look for and accept help wherever it is available.  This involves learning what resources your loved one has (sometimes assets aren’t immediately obvious) or qualifies to receive.  This could include understanding what it takes to apply for Medicaid (this differs state-to-state) and learning how your loved one might qualify for such benefits.  If your loved one served in any branch of the military, there may be benefits available, exploring those possibilities could be very helpful.  Reaching out to other family members, especially if they’re not providing any personal services, to see if they can contribute to a loved one’s care needs financially, could be a beneficial strategy.  But you won’t know what is available or even possible if you don’t take on the search.
  • Get clear about your core values as they relate to money.  This means digging deep, not into your pockets, but into your heart and getting very clear about what your money beliefs might be.  Do you feel responsible for funding all your kid’s college costs and worry that helping your parents might be eating into those dollars?  Are you concerned about your own capacity to retire with financial security if every month the health-care bills for your spouse erode your nest-egg?  All these sorts of worries revolve around our beliefs about money – how much we believe we need, what role money plays in our lives, and what it feels like to have “enough.”  When you know your values, you can find your “enough” – and when you know your “enough” you can see your path to making better decisions – for yourself and your loved ones.
  • Recognize that right now, in this moment, you’re not in immediate danger. Many of us who worry about finances aren’t actually concerned about TODAY, we’re distressed about TOMORROW.  And while it is valid to be planful about our financial needs, it is also important to recognize that tomorrow hasn’t come yet and TODAY in this moment, we’re not in imminent danger.  The capacity to live in the present moment can carry you a long way toward reducing your stress. It involves owning the realization that distress may come (and it comes in many forms to many people) it is not at your doorstep TODAY.  This gives you time to breathe and reconsider the decisions in front of you.

The high cost of healthcare and the on-going needs of those who depend on us to manage their care, see to their wellbeing and navigate the ever-changing waters of life, are realities in our world.  But the stress we impose upon ourselves by being too proud to accept (or ask for) assistance, being unwilling to examine our beliefs about money and its place in our life, or being caught-up in things that haven’t yet occurred, is an unnecessary anguish! 

In this moment, I wish for you access to the resources you need, confidence in your capacity to prepare for a safe & secure future, and the capacity to breathe into new possibilities that may open up before you if you give them space to appear.  Let me know if I can help! 

AARP resource available at: https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/financial-legal/info-2021/high-out-of-pocket-costs.html?intcmp=AE-CAR-CRC-LL

Self-care is every conscious action you take that feeds your soul, nourishes your body, nurtures your spirit, or replenishes your relationship with yourself!

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About Paula

I help other caregivers – both professionals and family caregivers – acknowledge their pain and learn to practice the many small skills of self-care that can sustain them through the challenges of wholeheartedly caring for others.

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How Can I Help You?

Through Co-Create 4 Life, you will learn a range of well-being strategies from skillfully implementing self-care to holistic approaches to well-being, rebuilding resilience, and battling burnout. Book a free consultation call today to discuss your options.

How Can I Help You?

Through Co-Create 4 Life, you will learn a range of well-being strategies from skillfully implementing self-care to holistic approaches to well-being, rebuilding resilience, and battling burnout. Book a free consultation call today to discuss your options.