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Caregivers, It's Okay to Ask for Help By: Constance Moore, MA, CSA, CDP, CMC, Client Care Specialist
Adults making the decision to place a loved one in a long-term care community usually experience gut-wrenching
guilt, sadness, and a variety of other feelings during the process. And in our current pandemic crisis, the personal
impact and emotional turmoil surrounding those choices have only worsened.

For residents in long-term communities, isolation has already become their “new normal.” There are no group
activities. No eating with others in dining rooms. No touching, hugging, or holding hands. No personal—or
extremely limited—visits with family and friends from the outside world. Each day is a carbon copy of the day
before—residents remain alone in their rooms with minimal social interaction or activities to help them pass the
time. As a result of their mandated isolation, cases of depression and dementia are accelerating at an alarming rate.

Anxious family members find themselves questioning, “Should I bring mom home to live with me?” or “If dad moves back in with us, can we provide for his needs and give him the care he requires or will we have to hire private medical personnel?”

Individuals finding themselves with this dilemma must also take into account whether this is what their loved one wants, the length of time they expect in-home care to continue, and if the parent or relative will be able to return to the long-term community in the future. The biggest unknown? Whether all family members impacted will be able to handle such a move with the many lifestyle changes associated with it.

The sad truth for millions of unpaid caregivers is this: finding a healthy balance between taking care of their own families and elderly loved ones is a constant challenge—not to mention a drain on time, finances, and relationships.

Additionally, the health of caregivers often takes a back seat to those they care for—55% admit their duties leave them
physically and emotionally exhausted. Seventeen percent say their own health has declined since becoming a caregiver.

2017 Report

HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT BALANCE IN YOUR LIFE
If you’re a caregiver, or know someone in your family or circle of friends who is, these suggestions might help
manage everyone’s needs—including your own.

Talk with your employer about any company programs or benefits that might apply to your situation. You
can’t clock in and out when caring for loved ones—it’s a 24/7 responsibility. If you already have a full-time job, it’s
nearly impossible to juggle the demands everyone has on your time.

In fact, among those who are employed or who have held jobs during their time as caregivers, approximately
one-third have used personal, vacation, and sick-leave days for caregiving duties. Furthermore, depending on their
household income level, as many as one-fifth of caregivers have taken a leave of absence.¹

If this sounds familiar, talk with your manager or human resources professional about any company programs or
benefits that could help with your situation. For example:

- You may qualify for the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Under this federal law, eligible employees
can take 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period for qualified medical and family situations. By law,
your employer is required to protect your job while you are on leave.
- Many companies have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that may be able to assist with the caregiving
challenges you are facing. For caregivers, benefits often include referrals to counseling services and support.
These programs also can help with long-term care referrals for your loved ones.
- Especially during this health crisis, companies large and small across the country are allowing employees to
work more flexible schedules as well as perform their duties from home. Not only does this provide a safer
working environment for co-workers, employees, and their families, it also saves on commuting time and
transportation expenses.

Stay on top of your financial situation—and save for an emergency. According to an AARP study, caregivers in
the U.S. spend an average of $6,954 annually on out-of-pocket caregiving expenses.² A variety of online budgeting and savings apps are available to help you track your finances. Once you’ve recorded your current living costs, estimate your future expenses and fund an emergency account (three to six months of income is a good goal).

Utilize local, state, and national resources for information on free services that provide caregiving
assistance.
You can find useful information and contacts through online sites such as Medicare.com,
Eldercare.gov, AARP.org, and Caregiver.com. If the person you’re providing for is on Medicaid, check to see if
your state allows recipients to use benefits to pay caregivers. In your local community, there may be a variety of
religious organizations and social service agencies that offer free care or companionship programs for elderly adults.

Don’t be shy about asking others for help. Talk with other family members related to the person you’re caring
for and see how they can assist with caretaking duties and take some of the burden off your shoulders. Find out
how much time, energy, and financial support each person is able to contribute toward your loved one’s care. If
friends volunteer to help with routine chores, meal preparation, carpool, and errands, let them.

Remember, every task delegated to someone else is a gift of time for you. Use those moments to rejuvenate—have
dinner with friends, join a gym, or plan a weekend away with your spouse or partner. Above all, don’t neglect your
own health by scheduling routine visits with your doctor.

DON’T LOSE SIGHT OF YOUR GOALS
The responsibilities that often come with supporting and caring for elderly loved ones can quickly jeopardize your
own long-term financial security. It’s important that you stay on track to reach your goals and have support in your
role as a caregiver. Download our complimentary Family Caregiving Guide for help exploring the financial and
emotional decisions related to caregiving.

Contact Commerce Trust Company today to learn more about how we can help you adjust your financial plan to
deal with your current challenges and unique situation.

¹ Transamerica Institute, “The Many Faces of Caregivers: A Close-Up Look at Caregiving and Its Impact” Report, 2017.
² AARP: “Family Caregiving and Out-of-Pocket Costs: 2016 Report”

The opinions and other information in the commentary are provided as of December 15, 2020. This summary is intended to provide general information only, and may be of value to the reader and audience.

This material is not a recommendation of any particular investment or insurance strategy, is not based on any particular financial situation or need, and is not intended to replace the advice of a qualified tax advisor or investment professional. While Commerce may provide information or express opinions from time to time, such information or opinions are subject to change, are not offered as professional tax, insurance or legal advice, and may not be relied on as such.

Data contained herein from third-party providers is obtained from what are considered reliable sources. However, its accuracy, completeness or reliability cannot be guaranteed.

Commerce Trust Company is a division of Commerce Bank.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Connie Moore, MA, CSA, CDP, CMC" Assistant Vice President, Client Care Specialist Commerce Trust Company

Constance is the client care specialist for Commerce Trust Company. She provides personalized service and attention to clients as they navigate the decisions, situations and family dynamics that accompany key life stages. Constance specializes in elderly care advisory services, including long-term care facilities, home healthcare services, crisis management, and liaison services.                          

Prior to joining Commerce Bank in 1998, Constance received bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in guidance counseling from Northeast Missouri State University. She also earned graduate certificates in marriage/family therapy from the Menninger Family Therapy Training Program and in gerontology from Lindenwood University. Constance is a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA), Certified Dementia Practitioner (CDP) and an Advanced Professional Certified Care Manager (CMC). She is a member of the Aging Life Care Association (ALCA), and as a trust officer, is held to the fiduciary standards of the Commerce Trust Company.    

Connie and her husband, Bill, have two dogs. Baxter, a 90 pound grand dog and Ollie, a 4.8 pound teacup poodle. Connie is an avid reader and belongs to "the best book club in the world". She also knits, hikes and loves her family.                
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