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5 Financial Strategies for Retired Military Officers Caring for Elderly Parents

Managing Your Finances

After you retire from the military (or maybe before), there is a pretty good chance that you'll have to help or even take care of your parents. Anyone who is planning to care for elderly parents should consider some financial strategies to help make things easier.

Considerations Before Deciding to Care for Your Elderly Parents

You probably know your parents as well as anyone. You know whether they are proud or easy-going. Yet, you may not know how things have changed for them. You may want to help; however, they may not be ready to accept. Before even broaching the subject, look for signs that they may be struggling (financially or otherwise).

  • Check the fridge and cupboards. Does it appear they are buying less food than usual?
  • Are they taking their medication when they should and at the proper dosage?
  • Is their home or apartment in any disrepair?

These could be signs that they are in some financial stress. You may also want to look for common signs of the onset of dementia or any physical ailments you haven’t witnessed previously. If you see any of these signs, it may be time to talk.

Now, it’s time to consider strategies regarding how you’re going to manage the responsibilities you’re about to take on.

1. Don’t Fear Government Assistance

If you’re already well-off financially, this won’t be an issue for you. However, a dearth of finances may soon become one if you are taking care of two families. To begin with, see if you can qualify your parent(s) as a dependent(s). This may allow you to avail yourself of some benefits like Tricare Plus. Government assistance may have a negative connotation among some people you know. Yet, you’re undertaking a massive responsibility if you’re eligible, the government may help. You or your parents may qualify for:

  • Veterans benefits
  • Secondary Dependency from DoD
  • Medicaid/Medicare
  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits
  • The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANIF) benefits
  • Help with utility bills and other services from your local government
  • Low-cost, subsidized cellphone service for seniors

The eligibility requirements for receiving some assistance is need-based. You might not qualify with your current, three-person household. However, if that household expands to five, things may change.

2. Make a Budget

You need to have an idea of what you can spend as well as what you need to spend. There’s likely to be a conflict between those two figures. You may be tempted to dip into any savings you may have, and that’s okay as long as you aren’t forced into depleting your savings.

3. Avoid New Debt

You are probably going to be relying on credit for some expenses, but it would be wise to avoid increasing your debt levels with new cards or personal loans. However, if the need arises, check out a local credit union for a low-interest option tailored to your needs.

4. Open a Savings Account

You'll want to have some extra funds available for the unexpected. Currently, savings accounts aren’t yielding the kind of interest your parents may be familiar with; however, they are very liquid and you can get your money regardless of what "the market" does. Online accounts may yield higher dividends because of the lack of overhead.

5. Secure Some Help

Your immediate family and siblings, or even extended family, may be affected by your decision to become the caregiver to your parents. You will need to talk to them to see if they want to help financially or otherwise or if they have objections to what you are doing. You may also consider talking to a financial advisor to see whether you are making as sound decisions with your money as you are in becoming a caregiver to your parents.


If you liked this article, you might like the following:

How to Avoid Getting Financially Squeezed in the Sandwich Generation


Affording Care for an Aging Parent

 

Top 5 Things Retired Military Business Owners Should Know about a Sep IRA



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