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Your Financial Life
By Catherine Tsai / Mar 3, 2014

Caring for the Caregiver: How Financial Advisors Can Help


For family members serving as caregivers for a parent or other loved one, you can be a lifeline.

Caregivers often have limited time to plan for retirement. After all, most of their time and energy is spent on their loved one, and they might pass up promotions at work that would require more time on the job.

The Alzheimer’s Association says family and friends who cared for those with dementia in 2012 had $9.1 billion in healthcare costs of their own. That can leave little left over for caregivers’ own retirement.

According to Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab director Joseph Coughlin, 1 in 5 American families provide nearly 20 hours of care to an older adult.

Perhaps more than most, caregivers could benefit greatly from partnering with a financial – or retirement – advisor who understands their unique situation. As someone who is patiently devoting the majority of their time to someone else, caregivers need a retirement advisor with a similar philosophy.

Questions caregivers should ask their financial advisor

Here are three questions you might consider asking your current or potential retirement advisor about ways they can help you manage your day-to-day needs, and prepare for your own future.

1. What financial products could help me finance my expenses? As you are all too aware, in addition to health care and long-term care expenses, there are often expenses associated with modifying your home, extra maintenance, food and transportation.

2. What other strategies can help me keep up with pharmacy expenses and other costs? An advisor may be able help you manage your expenses more efficiently, as they may have more experience with bill-paying services through a bank or guiding you through auto-pay options.

3. How can you help me connect with caregiving resources? Although many caregivers have their busy lives down to a routine, many more don’t have that luxury or are just getting started. Regardless, you may need to connect with wellness companies, local groups – such as the Alzheimer’s Association – or online communities who can help with your emotional needs and physical stress.

Not working with a financial advisor? We can help. In early April 2014, the Your Financial Life blog will expand to include a powerful and easy-to-use retirement planning tool, an education library, and access to retirement advisors – all in an environment that allows you to decide what is most important.

The challenge of helping people live better tomorrow is something Transamerica and MIT AgeLab are passionate about. Our long-term collaboration seeks to better understand how today’s aging population pursues and validates important information, especially as it relates to their finances. We also are looking at the impact of serious cognitive impairments such as dementia on individuals, their families and caregivers.