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Avoid Unexpected Caregiving Costs

In “The Hidden Costs of Caregiving,” Barron’s discusses some things readers may not be prepared for when taking care of a loved one who is ill or aging or both. Even when you or your loved one have done the financial planning needed or have long-term care insurance to pay for medical care, the money can be quickly depleted by unforeseen expenses:

 “About half of long-term care costs are paid out of pocket—not by Medicare or insurance—adding insult to (literal) injury. Barron’s talked with caregivers to see where those unexpected expenses can pop up, and how to minimize them.”

You may not realize that what you pay to have a loved on in an assisted living facility may only cover basics such as room and board and just assistance with getting dressed. Any additional services such as meeting special dietary needs or even getting medications through the facility (rather than through a drugstore) will incur extra charges.

Some people find that when they hire someone to help a loved one at home, those costs add up as well. If you find someone you trust, you want to pay them well. According to Barron’s, there are some people who go so far as to offer financial assistance to a caregiver who needs it in order to retain that person. 

Barron’s recommends that avoiding hospital stays if possible. Whether someone is at home or in a facility, you do not necessarily have to call 911 for everything. If you work with a primary care physician that offers comprehensive services and really listens, that person can provide the type of care that prevents hospital visits. Plus there are now services that make house calls for x-rays and other tests that were once only done in the hospital.

And if your loved one does have a hospital stay, you have to be diligent about talking with doctors about what is and isn’t needed. One expert told Barron’s, “She learned the hard way that special instructions, such as not administering a particular class of medication without her consent, could be put on a chart only by a doctor, not a nurse.”