When parents need physical (and financial) help

 Money Matters, my Sunday radio show [which airs from 9 to 11 a.m. on 95.5 FM News Talk WSB] deals mostly with how to invest the money you already have. But what if you’re responsible for someone else’s financial wellbeing? Budgeting for yourself is one thing, but how do you budget for your elderly, and perhaps ailing, mom and dad?

Consider how widespread (and costly) the issue of caring for an aging family member is:
•65.7 million caregivers make up 29 percent of the U.S. adult population providing care to someone who is ill, disabled or elderly.
•52 million caregivers provide care to adults with a disability or illness.
•43.5 million adult family caregivers care for someone age 50 or older, and 14.9 million care for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia.
•More than one in six Americans working full- or part-time report assisting with the care of an elderly or disabled family member, relative or friend. Caregivers working at least 15 hours per week said it significantly affected their work life.
•Among working caregivers caring for a family member or friend, 69 percent report having to rearrange their work schedule, decrease their hours or take an unpaid leave in order to meet their care giving responsibilities.
•Family members who are trying to juggle a job and their care giving responsibilities often make sacrifices at work. They turn down promotions, chose early retirement or – in extreme cases – give up working entirely.
•Difficulties due to work and care giving are even more challenging among those caring for someone with dementia. Caregivers suffer loss of wages, health insurance and other job benefits, retirement savings and Social Security benefits.
•10 million caregivers over 50 who care for their parents give up an estimated $3 trillion in wages, pensions, retirement funds and benefits. The total costs are higher for women, who lose an estimated $324,044 due to care giving, compared to men at $283,716.

These aren’t easy questions, but Consumer Education Services, Inc. (CESI), a national nonprofit based in North Carolina, can help with answers. CESI is a service provider of comprehensive personal financial education and solutions for all life stages. This includes helping people deal with the financial challenge of caring for elderly family members. CESI can help caregivers and families take care of older adults and people with physical or developmental disabilities. They help keep their money secure, make sure bills get paid and guide families toward staying within a budget.

The cost? For some people the monthly cost will range from $10 to below $40 a month (depending on the program you choose). For those who don’t end up on a monthly plan, CESI can actually be free.

One of CESI’s programs, Assure Money Services (AMS), can help monitor and pay bills for those no longer physically or mentally able to keep up with them. They have paid more than $1 billion in client bills through their debt management program and continued to maintain an A+ BBB rating.

Saving for retirement is important, but so is caring for loved ones. Sometimes, retirement saving has to be prioritized with caring for our moms and dads. Don’t be timid about asking for help in taking care of your family while you maintain their (and your own) financial responsibilities.

CESI might be a good place to start. They even have a toll-free number just for Money Matters listeners and AJC Bargain Hunter readers: 1-800-331-1825.

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