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Financial and Legal Planning: Caring for an Aging Family Member at Home

It’s a noble decision to care for an aging family member with dementia and welcome them into your own home as a permanent resident. You’re doing them a fantastic service, and you should feel good about that.

Before you start however, you will need to lay the groundwork for a successful transition. That includes getting your legal and financial ducks in a row. There’s a lot of paperwork to complete and modifications you may need to make around the home before you welcome them into the house.

Make Sure Your Home Is Ready

Before you bring your loved one into your house, you need to have a firm understanding of their condition and the modifications you’ll need to make so your dwelling is safe for their arrival. For instance, if your relative is older, they may not be as mobile as they once were, so you’ll want to declutter the home and clean up any messes on the floor.

This same strategy applies to rooms with several tables and chairs. You may want to space them out so everyone can get around. You can also help your loved one navigate the house by labeling the rooms and drawers that contain the items they use most so they don’t get confused.

With your rooms now clutter-free and organized, it’s time to add extra safety elements to make your home older-adult friendly. Start in the bathroom, where you should heavily consider adding grab bars near the toilet and in the shower, along with slip-resistant tile or padding.

Check the railings near staircases, ensure they’re attached securely, and add extra handles they can use as they go up and down. If your loved one is in a wheelchair, you may need to add an elevator lift near the stairs and a ramp outside.

Financial Planning

These home modifications won’t come for free, so you’ll need to start your financial planning by determining what you can and can’t install. If you can’t yet afford the more expensive medical equipment like the stair lift, consider housing your family member on the bottom floor for now and see where it goes.

You may also need to rearrange some of your time to help your loved one get to their medical appointments. However, you may have to make drastic adjustments if you currently work full-time. Talk to your employer and tell them your situation. They may offer a flexible schedule.

In addition to taking them to the doctor, you’ll also want to help them keep up on their other preventative care appointments, which may include bringing your older parent to the dentist. This is important because it’s more than just fixing cavities. Dental health has connections to many other serious ailments. In addition to gum disease, issues could also lead to:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Kidney disease

Needless to say, you need to get them to that dentist’s chair so their condition doesn’t worsen. If money is tight, you can make these visits more affordable by using a flexible spending account attached to your insurance or you may be eligible for a dental loan program, so look into that.

If the dementia gets really bad, you may have to quit or work part-time instead. You’ll want to plan for that potential eventuality and determine if you can keep yourself afloat while supporting another person. Create a budget, look at your income versus expenses, and modify your lifestyle as necessary.

Explore Financial Help

Many programs can help you cover financial costs. Investigate whether your loved one is eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance or Medicare, which could provide payments to help you along.

This is also an excellent time to look into insurance and retirement plans because many may cover mental health services, home health visits, and physical therapy. If you combine multiple products, then there’s a chance that a good chunk of their healthcare costs could be covered.

Also, investigate the possibility of tax breaks that could help with expenses like wheelchairs and a proper hospital bed for your home. You can speak to a tax expert to find out what you may be eligible to write off. Of course, don’t forget to save all of your receipts along the way.

Financial and Legal Planning for Elderly Loved One
Photo by Dario Valenzuela on Unsplash

Get Ahead of Legal Documentation

When you become the primary caregiver of an aging family member or someone who has dementia, you’ll have a lot of legal information and paperwork to complete. Among the most important is the Power of Attorney.

Power of Attorney

The forms included in this document permit you to make medical and financial decisions for your loved one. If you take on this role, you’ll be considered the agent because you may need to tackle complex and challenging healthcare decisions, including choosing treatment and hospitalization.

A Power of Attorney document also allows you to make decisions and help with financial matters. Those include filing taxes on their behalf, making investment decisions, and accessing their account to pay for medical bills and housing needs.

Talk to an attorney and get this document squared away before your family member is too far gone. If you don’t get a Power of Attorney in order, then you’ll need to go through the process of establishing guardianship, which is a much lengthier process. It will require an application, a hearing, and many days in court, which could take you away from caring for your loved one.


Another essential document is the written will, which will dictate where property and funds will go after their passing. First, you’ll want to create an inventory of all of their assets, including bank accounts, deeds, insurance policies, and tax documents, so you can account for everything under their name and make a complete will.

Although the law may vary slightly in different states, your loved one must be aware of the value of their property and who the beneficiaries will be to make their signing legitimate.

Getting Started… Carefully

Although you’re likely anxious to get your aging loved one in your home so you can provide the care they need, don’t rush until you understand all of the financial and legal implications. Add the steps discussed here to your checklist and talk to an attorney to ensure that you have every box checked so you can give your family member the best care possible.