Caregiving isn’t just emotionally and physically demanding. It can get expensive. On average, caregivers spend between $5,000 and $20,000 per year on caregiving expenses.
Between co-pays for medication or medical appointments to caregiving support or devices and equipment, the expenses add up quickly. This isn’t even including general housing and nutritional needs.
If you are lucky, your parent planned ahead or was employed by a company that offered a pension. If not, where do you turn to get assistance with the overwhelming costs?
National Resources For Low Income Seniors
While it may take time to get set up in the federal systems, it is well worth your time to get your parents into the system for support. Caregiving is a marathon, not a race. Most caregivers are in their role for 5 years. Taking the time to apply for programs that provide financial assistance will help you in the long run.
National Council on Aging Benefits Check Up: Visit this site to find out what federal programs are available to your aging parents.
Medicare: Visit this site to find out insurance benefits and programs available to your aging parents.
Department of Health and Social Services: Your local branch will have information on local services available to your aging parents.
Administration on Aging: Your local branch can help you access services in your community.
Meals on Wheels of America: this organization will provide your parents with one meal per day. There is a fee associated with this service, however, they have options for low income seniors.
Local Resources for Low Income Seniors
Once you’ve figured out what federal options are available to you, it’s time to turn to your local community. Every community is different, so there may be more options in your community.
Chamber of Commerce or Senior Center: Reach out to these organizations in your city or county for a list of low cost or volunteer services in your community. For example, I knew of a senior center that did free grocery shopping for the elderly in their community. The client had to pay for the groceries, but not for the shopping fee. My local senior center has a program where volunteers call home-bound elderly people to check in on them. Every community is different. Find out what is available in your community. Just taking one or two items off your list will give you a few hours back every week.
Local Churches: If your parent, or you, are a member of a church, reach out to the spiritual leader with your needs. There may be a group or person within the church who can assist with some of the challenges of caregiving. Even getting help with meal delivery or transportation could impact your budget. That’s one less meal you are preparing or one less ride you are paying for or taking time off work to do.
Local Youth Programs: If there are local service-oriented youth programs in your community, reach out to find out if they provide senior services. Perhaps they can assist with yardwork or errands. You don’t know if you don’t ask.
Your Parent’s Doctor: Reach out to your parent’s doctor’s office if you are struggling with covering the co-pay or prescription costs. There may be ways they can assist. Some pharmaceutical companies offer patient assistance. Your parent may also be able to take a generic prescription to lower the cost.
As someone who lives with a chronic condition, I know how expensive it can be to deal with healthcare expenses. Finding financial relief is time-consuming and you will feel like you are banging your head against the wall when you repeat the same information to the 45th person, but the long-term cost savings will be worthwhile. Additionally, bringing in support for certain tasks can free up a few hours here and there in your own schedule, giving you the opportunity to practice self-care, or at least take better care of yourself.