If you are planning to ‘age in place’ with the help of a family caregiver, it is important to consider the potential impact this decision could have on your loved one, and the challenges they may face.

There are more than 66 million family caregivers in the United States (about 40 percent of the U.S. adult population), according to the National Alliance for Caregiving. In addition to assisting with daily living activities—like eating, bathing and dressing—family caregivers may also provide transportation to appointments, run errands, and help with household chores.

Most family caregivers are unpaid and often contribute financially to their loved one’s care. Consequently, the responsibility of caring for a loved one, in addition to juggling their career and the demands of their own family, can take a toll on a caregiver’s health and finances.

The demands of caring for a loved one can be further complicated by a complex health care delivery system. For example, this post from Forbes.com explains the challenges that Kathy Kenyon has faced as she seeks a person- and family-centered mode of health care for her aging parents. An attorney with a background in health care, Kenyon has an advantage over “laypeople”, but she has still had to reduce her work hours to serve as her parents’ primary caregiver.

If a family member will be stepping in to provide care as you age, have a conversation—before you need their help—to discuss various scenarios and logistics. Here are some questions to consider from mainstreet.com:

·         Are your finances sufficient to cover your living and health care expenses, long-term? If not, is your family member able to help? Full disclosure about your projected income is critical.

·         Where will you live, long-term? Will you remain in your home, or move in with your caregiver? Will you be able to live there comfortably if you become less mobile and independent?

·         Discuss the expectations you have of your caregiver. Are they realistic? Can your family member provide the care and attention you will need, long-term?

By planning ahead and discussing these issues while you are independent and able, you can help minimize the emotional, physical, and financial stress of your loved one.

For further information about family caregivers and the challenges they may face, visit the National Alliance for Caregiving and the Family Caregiver Alliance.

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