Caregiving: Becoming an Asset versus an Ass(umption)

Becoming an Asset versus an Ass(umption)

By Pamela D. Wilson, CSA, MS, BS/BA, CG

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” Albert Einstein

Caregivers—are you moving forward or backward? If you maintain your present daily habits what will your physical and mental health, and general well-being look line in one year, three years, five years? Do you think about the future or focus only on the present?  Will you be an asset or a liability to your loved ones?  Will you become a care recipient?

Time passes quickly and catches up with all of us. Did you plan to be a caregiver for your parent or loved one? It’s likely your parent assumed that you would provide care and support. Surprise! My guess is that mom or dad didn’t ask, and here you are—a caregiver for a parent or another loved one feeling guilty or even angry that your parent expects more than you can offer.

Caregivers score low when prioritizing their own needs. Caregivers include not only family such as husbands and wives, or brothers and sisters, but also professional caregivers who provide services. Professional caregivers are attorneys, CPAs, physicians, other medical professionals, care community staff, hospital staff, in-home caregivers, and a long list of other individuals who support family caregivers and care recipients.

It’s a common belief that we live in a protected bubble where we will live happily forever after until some surprising event occurs to deliver a dose of reality. Based on my experience, life rarely has a fairytale ending. There is hope for a better outcome if we choose to plan for the future and be realistic in considering the inevitable.

I have a colleague who changed his career to become a financial planner. His perspective is that we are all a very important asset—to someone—and that we must plan for and protect this asset (ourselves).

Rather than being solely focused on money and investing, the focus of this financial planner is explaining to a client that he or she is an asset—a major asset. His focus is on protecting the asset (client) by discussing the realities of life that may include disability, and that will include long-term care planning, the likelihood of becoming a care recipient, and the reality of life which is death.

How might your physical disability or ill health effect your family who is dependent on you for income and support?  What if you died suddenly? A colleague of mine recently went on a scuba diving adventure from which he did not return. A close friend of mine died one year ago of cancer. As we age, these experiences become common and our mortality apparent. Anything can happen at any time.

If you are a caregiver how did your parent or family member’s lack of planning for disability or poor health effect you as a caregiver or the effect quality of care that your loved one receives?

Savings, investments, and different types of insurance to support care makes the difference between receiving good care and substandard care. This exchange of information should serve as a reality check, as an early warning for you to pay attention—now! Protect yourself and your family.

If you have not taken steps to plan financially for your health, disability, or care needs the time is now. Women – pay attention. The statistics show that more women than men live in nursing homes at the end of life on public assistance called Medicaid because the family’s entire financial resources were spent on the care of the husband who (if statistics proved accurate) died before the wife.

Women caregive their entire lives by raising children, caring for parents, and a spouse and remain with no one to care for them and no money to pay for care. It is important not to rely on your children or others, especially if you don’t have children, to care for you. Professionals exist to fill the roles of medical power of attorney, financial power of attorney, and personal representative of your estate.

Don’t assume or place the financial burden on your family to care for you. Move forward and plan today for the unexpected and eventual costs of care. Many of us lack the expertise to plan financially or to investigate insurance to meet our needs. Find a financial planner and a life and health insurance agent to form a team to help you plan to be an asset to your family.

©2017 Pamela D. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

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