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As life expectancy increases and baby boomers age, many peoplefind themselves taking on the role of caretaker for aging parentsor loved ones who can’t live independently. More than 50 millionAmericans are caring for family members aged 18 or older, and atleast another 10 million are caring for those with special needswho are younger than 18.

Many people find themselves overwhelmed by the role of primarycaregiver. In addition to the emotional repercussions of assumingthis challenge, the financial impact can take a hefty toll on yourquality of life and finances.

By following these tips, you can lessen the burden as you carefor the needs of your loved one.

Know your loved one’s financial situation

Review the care recipient’s finances. This includes bills,expenses, assets, insurance policies,investment and retirement accounts, stock certificates, and SocialSecurity benefits and payments with an accountant or financialplanner. Develop a system for paying bills and keeping records.Determine who in your family will manage these finances.

If the care recipient has a life-insurance policyand you’re confused about aspects of the policy, you can call arepresentative at SBLI (888-GET-SBLI.) The life-insurancerepresentatives at SBLI ( can help answeryour policy questions.

Get affairs in order

Legal plans go hand in hand with financial plans. Make sure awill has been drawn up, finalized and signed. The will shouldinclude the durable power of attorney for finances, which gives adesignated person the authority to make financial decisions whenthe care recipient cannot do so. Make sure the will includes a planfor a health care proxy as well as other relevant medicaldecrees.

Assess the current situation

* What can your loved one afford?

* Are other family members able to contribute?

* Can you afford to stop working, reduce your hours, and/or helppay for costs?

* Will you need to hire a visiting nurse or other health careprovider?

Seek available information and resources to help you as thedesignated caregiver. Keep in mind: Every caregiver’s financialsituation is different. Information can often be confusing when youtry to locate the best resources to help meet your specific needs.The good news: Plenty of local and national associations specializein caregivers’ needs, and regional, state and federal programs andservices are available to provide a wide range of financial andlegal assistance plus emotional support and guidance.

The financial aspects of the caregiver role are certainlyimportant, but it’s the emotional connection that will sustain bothyou and the person for whom you are caring.

Holly Whittelsey Whiteside, a caregiver’s coach and advocate andauthor of “The Caregiver’s Compass,” offers this advice to helpyour loved one feel emotionally connected to you:

1. Don’t do for them what they can do for themselves. Too muchhelp is disempowering for them.

2. Don’t let practical demands get you down, eroding your mutualconnection.

3. What you resist, persists. When you find yourself resistingsomething or someone, change what you can and then practiceacceptance of what you can’t.

4. Your thoughts can spin dramas that become emotionalrealities. Shifting your thoughts shifts your care giving.

5. Surround your loved one with love. Offer productive tasks.Supply entertainment that they have always enjoyed. Provideopportunities for them to feel competent.

It’s impossible to be all things to all people. Focus on doingthe best job you can. Use these tips as a guideline to provide thebest financial and emotional care to your loved one and lessen yourown financial and emotional tolls.

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