According to the American Psychological Association, 65.7 million Americans are providing in-home care for a relative who is ill or disabled. Known as family caregivers, the majority of these individuals are women, many of whom have quit jobs, changed hours, or otherwise altered their work situation to be able to care for a loved one. This can take a toll on a family’s finances. While most caregivers willingly accept the financial changes that come with caring for a loved one, there are ways to offset the financial strain.
Medicaid funded programs are one of the most common types of financial compensations for elderly care. The Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program, or CDPAP, is a program that allows Medicaid recipients to manage their own long-term care needs, including paying for a caregiver. In some states this caregiver can be a family member, including children, siblings, parents, or other family members. Unfortunately, spouses and legal guardians are excluded from eligibility, while in some states caregivers must not live in the same home as the person receiving care. For families who have looked into Medicaid programs and discovered that they aren’t eligible, there are other options for reducing financial strain.
The VA offers four care plans veterans can apply for to help offset the financial strain on family members helping to care for them. One of these is Veteran Directed Care. Like the Medicaid program just mentioned, this is a self-directed care plan where the veteran chooses his or her long-term services. Unlike the CDPAP, any physically or mentally healthy family member can qualify to be a caregiver, including spouses. For families who aren’t able to take advantage of either of these options, there are also caregiver contracts. With this option, the care recipient pays the family member providing care for services rendered.
Money is a sensitive topic among families during the best of times and can be even harder to discuss in caregiving situations when tensions may run high already. The best way to address the issue is to have an honest, open discussion, with each family member bringing solutions to the table. If this is something a family struggles with, an unbiased third party can help facilitate the conversation, such as a member of the clergy, or a family lawyer or close friend.