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As your parents age, there is a natural desire to help your loved ones through their senior years and manage their health needs. Although this is noble, it can be emotionally and financially stressful. This is why it is important not to assume the caregiver role without first understanding how to budget for senior care, or otherwise secure the financial support your aging parents will need going forward. Try using this small guide to help you make the transition to the caregiver role smoothly and with confidence.

Understand Your Parents' Finances

It may be uncomfortable to start prying into your parents' expenses, but you can't be an effective caregiver if you don't know their full financial situation. This is especially important in old age, when memory begins to decline and bills can pile up and go unpaid without anyone realizing it. Getting a proper understanding of your parents' finances means knowing their financial institution and account information, making sure their financial records are secure and accessible, obtaining a tally of monthly expenses, and, if necessary, getting power of attorney or guardianship. You should also investigate all sources of income your parents have, such as social security or pension.

Seek Job Benefits Before Quitting

It can be difficult to be a caregiver to an ailing parent while also managing job responsibilities. However, you should be very careful if you are considering quitting your job, since it may end up hurting you more in the long run. Examine the benefits package offered by your employer and check for things like drug insurance coverage, disability pay, life insurance, and long term care policies. Try to determine how costly these plans would be to replace if you were to leave. Talk with your boss and inquire about flextime or family-leave policies. It may be possible to be a caregiver and retain your job, but finding the right balance to make things work could require some creativity.

Make a Caregiving Budget

Becoming a caregiver will have financial consequences, so it is important to take a comprehensive look at the costs involved and budget accordingly. Put together an itemized list of how much will need to be spent on caregiver duties and see if you have the finances to support them. Additionally, you should make a list of the financial resources your parents have and see if there are ways to make better use of them as you budget for senior care.

Explore Public Benefits

Both the provincial and federal governments offer various senior care benefits that can be tapped to better support your aging parents. For instance, the federal government runs the Compassionate Care Benefit program, which lets you secure up to six weeks of employment insurance and job protection when taking time off to care for a family member. It is also possible to claim an income tax deduction based on the Family Caregiver Amount, which is worth about $2,058.

Learn About Live-In Caregivers

The federal government runs a program that helps foreign caregivers work as live-in, professional caregivers for children, elders, or those with disabilities. You may be hesitant to let a stranger into your home to care for your parents, but the program is quite good and has helped countless families and immigrants alike. More information can be found here.

Consider Professional Help

There are specialists who can be hired to help you devise a care plan, identify and tap community resources, and find ways to make your available time and expenses work for your caregiver situation. Geriatric-care managers can usually be found by inquiring online or speaking with staff at hospitals or elder-care homes.

TheCareGuide.com is an online repository of information and guidance for seniors and their families that has been providing insights into elder care and housing solutions since 1996. More information and advice on financial support for aging parents and senior care options can be found by contacting us at 1-800-311-CARE (2273) or info@thecareguide.com.

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