Almost all caregivers wonder how to save money while ensuring all of their loved ones’ needs are met. These eight tips can help you save money and reduce the weight of caregiving stress:
1. Find available tax deductions and credits. One of the most common ways that caregivers save money is through tax credits and deductions. There are many available, and several of them apply to the senior or a caregiver who claims him as a dependent. A financial planner or tax preparation professional can help you determine what you qualify for, and if your loved one can be claimed as a dependent.
2. Strike a work/life balance. Balancing work and your duties can be a big source of caregiving stress. A survey by MetLife Mature Market Institute found that lost wages, when combined with missed retirement savings and Social Security benefits, total about $300,000 for each caregiver who quits work to provide full-time care. Try to find a balance between your work life and your role as a caregiver.
3. Choose independent caregivers over agencies. Home care agencies typically cost far more than independent caregivers. When going independent, remember to perform your own background checks, discuss expectations, and address the caregiver’s sick time and vacation leave.
4. Utilize sitters instead of home health aides when possible. Home health aides are paid for their specialized training, and to help with tasks that require medical professionals. If your senior needs regular nursing care, then medical knowledge is critical. But if she only requires sporadic medical care, a full-time home health aide may not be necessary.
5. Compare prices for caregivers. You shop around for cars and compare prices in the grocery store, so doing the same thing when it comes to finding a caregiver can help you save money.
6. Look into options for free or inexpensive respite care. A number of nonprofit groups offer free or subsidized respite care to families. These may include local churches, Alzheimer’s support groups, and many more. Your local Area on Aging can help you locate an organization in your neighborhood.
7. Use adult day care when possible. Adult day care comes at only a fraction of the cost of in-home care, and allows your loved one to participate in group activities and make friends. Even if it’s only for part of the day or for a few days each week, using adult day care instead of in-home care can greatly reduce costs for most families.
8. Think about how technology can help. Knowing how to save money with technology really comes down to understanding your loved one’s needs. Some seniors can be alone for a few hours, but require remote supervision due to an increased fall risk or cognitive issues. A medical alert device or home monitoring system may be enough to help keep these older adults safe.
Saving money as a caregiver may take work, but the results pay off. By following these tips and assessing your loved one’s unique situation, you can help keep her safe and offer a bit of added independence, enhancing her quality of life.