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Read the first three chapters and download the guide.
You are a caregiver if your responsibilities to your loved one include shopping for groceries, scheduling appointments, handling medications or finances, and running errands, among others.
You are in charge of grocery shopping, house cleaning, running errands, or you assist with their personal hygiene.
You are in charge of coordinating their care, including their health care, taking them to their appointments, and getting their medications.
You provide assistance with their physical therapy, medication administration, wound cleaning, and other medical procedures.
You are in charge of managing their finances, financial responsibilities, or legal matters.
Regardless of whether you already take care of someone or you are beginning to notice warning signs in your parents or other elderly or disabled family members, it's crucial that you get organized and draft an action plan. This includes securing all legal and financial documents, ensuring the support and cooperation of other family members, and most of all and inasmuch as possible, including the person you take care of in these arrangements so they can feel secure.
Taking care of another person is a huge task and a long-term commitment. Those who balance this job the best are those who can rely on the support and cooperation of the rest of the family. Furthermore, it is important to do it while your family member can still make decisions.
Regardless of the stage you are in, if you have family, gather them to discuss how you will all deal with the care and financial needs of your family member. You should consider including the following among the most important topics:
For example, who will take care of the groceries, home maintenance, paying the bills, coordinating health care, and providing appointment transportation, among others.
How much money would each of you have to contribute in case your family member does not have the financial means to support themselves.
If your family member has a retirement account, Social Security benefits, properties, savings accounts, or any other form of income, it is important that you reach an agreement on how that money will be used and what type of accountability will be required. This is key for maintaining good family relations and avoiding misunderstandings. To make payments easier, consider assigning this duty to a single family member and establish the way and frequency they should report on the expenses.
If your family member has a dependent minor or elderly person (with or without disabilities), you should discuss how that responsibility will be shared. In the case of people with special needs, make sure they obtain all the benefits available to them, such as Social Security disability benefits and any others that may apply. There could also be a surviving spouse, which may entail assuming the supervision of their benefits to make sure the spouse is the appointed beneficiary in the bank account, the life insurance policy, and the retirement benefits of your loved one.
Having the necessary legal documents at hand is essential to make decisions regarding the care of your loved one, manage their affairs, and protect their rights. If they are still able to make decisions, it is important to discuss the preparation of the following documents, so they are available whenever they are needed. Among them:
States the type of health care they would like to receive when they are no longer able to express their will. It also allows for the designation of an individual to represent them and be able to make decisions about their care. This document helps the family avoid having to make health care decisions during a critical moment and ensures the fulfillment of their wishes, as doctors and hospital institutions are obligated to fulfill them.
Legal document that authorizes a trusted person to make financial decisions on their behalf. The term “durable” means that it will continue to be in effect if the person becomes incapable of managing their own financial matters. A factor to discuss is how to deal with a situation where your family member has legal responsibility over another family member.
If your loved one receives Social Security benefits, but is no longer capable of managing their money, it is a good idea for them to name you, or another trusted person, as their representative. The representative is authorized and responsible for managing the benefits to cover food, housing, and other needs. For guidance, you may call 1-800-772-1213 or access www.ssa.gov.
Due to privacy laws, to be able to manage health insurance on your family member's behalf, you must have their authorization and be named their representative. Get in touch with their health insurance company for details on this process.
Many think that this only applies to wealthy people. However, in reality, even if you only own a modest property and have a few savings, drafting a will and testament is the best way to ensure your wishes are fulfilled. Otherwise, the State will be the entity in charge of determining who the heirs are and how the property will be divided. Also, if there is no valid will, the legal process is more complex and costly.
That you should identify and keep in an easily accessible and safe place:
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