Guide
Financial Guide
Phase 2: In the trenches - The daily challenges of providing and affording care
Written by Suzanne Boutilier

Once we’ve made it through the first whirlwind phase of our caregiving journey, things start to settle down a bit. Or at least, we start to get more accustomed to the day-to-day challenges and are no longer as surprised by the month-to-month expenses.

Now we can create a budget based on our family member’s income and assets, as well as our own. If necessary, we can explore financial aid options and resources available for caregivers. This can include government programs, non-profit organizations, grants, and other sources of financial support.

Working with an Elder Law Attorney or an accountant or financial planner specializing in elder care can be helpful here, especially if we’re assuming financial responsibility.

As a loved one’s care needs increase, we may find it harder to balance caregiving and our work responsibilities. If paying for professional care is out of reach financially, and we don’t have other family members who are able and willing to share the load, this is when many of us leave our jobs and kiss our income goodbye.

Our newly tightened belts force us to find new ways to save, find, and earn money while providing daily care. The good news is all of the above are possible.

Saving money

Prescription costs represent a significant expense for many older adults and the people who care for them. Recognizing this, RubyWell offers a prescription savings tool that family caregivers can use to access coupons for up to 80% savings on prescriptions. Often, the final out-of-pocket cost is lower than the Medicare copay.

We may be able to find low prices on durable medical equipment at Best Buy Health. We can also do a Google search to locate second-hand durable medical equipment (DME) or a free DME lending library in your area.

Coupons and senior discounts at stores that sell caregiving supplies can take a bite out of these recurring expenses.

If the person we are caring for served in the military, we may have access to the commissary at the nearest military base. Commissary prices for groceries and caregiving supplies may be lower than at the usual big box, grocery stores, and pharmacies.

Finding money

Many Medicare Advantage (MA) plans offer supplemental benefits that go unused because people don’t know about them. Very soon, RubyWell will be able to help here, with our Medicare Advantage Benefits Navigator. By entering the MA plan ID number caregivers can explore all of the benefits that may be available to them. These can range from hearing aid coverage to gym memberships to meal delivery.

Accessing an early benefit from a life insurance policy may also be an option, as is selling a life insurance policy via a life settlement or viatical settlement for an early pay-out. These strategies mean that there will be a lower pay-out or no pay-out at all to their beneficiaries upon their death, but can provide much needed financial support when it’s really needed. More information about finding money in a life insurance policy is here.

Earning money

Getting paid as a family caregiver may feel wrong to some, but there are a number of reasons we should get paid as family caregivers. And if you're comfortable with getting paid, there are a number of ways that some family caregivers can earn money for/while providing care. We go into detail on each of these in our article for Ways to Get Paid as a Family Caregiver. But here’s a quick overview:

Government Programs

Some state Medicaid programs and the Veterans Administration (VA) pay family caregivers of aging adults who meet their strict eligibility requirements. To be eligible for Medicaid, the care recipient will have to spend down most of their savings and assets on care. To be eligible for one of four VA programs that pay family caregivers, the person we’re caring for must have veteran status and meet various other criteria.

RELATED: Government Programs for Family Caregivers

Long term Care insurance

Some LTCI policies reimburse family caregivers for assisting with ADLs and providing some medical care. If an LTCI policy is in place, and the policy’s requirements to claim reimbursement for home care expenses are met, we still need to check to see if the policy covers “informal caregivers.” That’s us. If they do, we can call the insurance company or insurance agent to find out what we need to do to start receiving compensation for the care we’re providing.

Paid Family Leave

Eleven states plus Washington DC currently have paid family leave laws that can provide up to 12 weeks of pay per year to workers who need to take time off to care for a family member with a serious health condition. You can learn about family leave laws in your state on RubyWell's Family Leave resource.

Personal Care Agreement

If our family agrees to pay one or more family members to provide the majority of care, we can draw up a legally binding document called a Personal Care Agreement. This lays out the duties and responsibilities of the primary caregiver and the compensation that the family will pay them.  We can work with an elder attorney to draw this up, or draft it ourselves.

Divide and Conquer

Caregiving, at its best, takes a village. Dividing up care responsibilities with siblings, other family members, and/or friends could allow us to maintain part time work, some benefits, and allow us to continue contributing to Social Security. 

At RubyWell, we’re building tools to help family caregivers save, find, and earn money while providing care. Right now, you can access coupons for up to 80% of prescription prices with our prescription savings tool. And we’re currently building a comprehensive and easy-to-use MA benefits navigator, where you’ll be able to discover unused Medicare Advantage Supplemental Benefits. If you’d like to be among the first to hear about future products, join our waiting list

Continue reading:

Phase 3: End of life - The transition out of caregiving

Phase 4: Post-caregiving - Tying up financial affairs after death

Phase 5: Retirement Reset - Planning For Our Future Care

Review:

Introduction: What to Expect on the Financial Journey Through Family Caregiving

Phase 1: Oh! I’m a caregiver - The early days

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Phase 3: End of life - The transition out of caregiving
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Written by Suzanne Boutilier
Suzanne Boutilier has been working and writing in the caregiving space since 2021. She also helps her sisters care for their aging father.
Reviewed by Elyse Dasko
Elyse Dasko is a leading communications strategist in age tech, caregiving and the longevity market.