Caretakers often times do the “heavy lifting” when helping a loved one recover from a major illness such as a stroke. What would you do if you found yourself suddenly responsible for taking care of someone who had recently had a stroke?
Understanding the disease, taking care of the loved ones’ day-to-day needs and planning for their care in the future can be a little less overwhelming when you tackle each issue head on. Questions like the following will need to be dealt with fairly immediately:
Where are all of the important legal and financial papers?
How much money is in the stroke survivor’s bank account(s)?
What bills need to be paid and in what order?
Will the patient need in-home care? And if so, how much and for how long?
Has the employer of the stoke victim been contacted? Is there a plan for time off, benefits and/or workman’s compensation?
Does his/her health insurance coverage have a “cap?” At what point are you responsible?
Once the reality of the situation sinks in, the caretaker will need to address the following:
- Consider paying for help – Some strokes are mild and won’t require help outside of the survivor’s family, but many times long-term rehabilitation is needed. If your loved one is returning home, outside help may alleviate some of your concerns.
- Finding money – In addition to money from your loved one’s job and disability benefits, look into other sources such as the following to help pay bills: retirement plans, veteran’s benefits, life insurance, long-term care insurance, reverse mortgage, and personal property.
- Paying bills – Make sure your loved one continues to pay his/her bills on time. Call creditors, utility companies and others to make them aware of the situation. Payment plans can often be created.
- Spending plan – With limited income, and expenses likely increasing after a stroke, it’s important to develop a budget or a spending plan for your loved one. This will help to ensure that you know how much money your loved one has to live on every month.
- Support groups for caretakers – Your local hospital will more than likely be able to refer you to a support group for people like you. The Internet is also another great resource for online support. Being a caretaker comes with its own emotional issues in addition to the financial realities. Receiving and giving support should be a top priority to help you deal with these responsibilities.
- Online help – Harness the power of the Internet to find out more about the disease and how it affects the patient, you and other family members.