Q: My parents are getting older, and while they don’t live with me, I’ve had to pick up more of their medical bills as their health declines. What can I do to lighten my financial load?
A: First, know you’re not alone. A study from AgingCare found that while an estimated 34 million adults provide care for elderly family members, 63 percent of them don’t have a game plan for paying their aging parents’ bills. Instead, most caregivers wind up dipping into their own pockets for their parents’ prescription drugs and nursing expenses.
One way to lessen your financial burden is by taking advantage of federal and state aid. Make sure your parents are getting all the senior citizen benefits they’re entitled to by logging on to BenefitsCheckup.org, a service of The National Council on Aging. The site allows you to find and apply for government and private programs that help pay for expenses including health-care bills. For local resources, check with the Eldercare Locator service and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.
One final note: Many employers offer dependent-care flexible spending accounts (which allows one to pay for a dependent’s expenses with pretax dollars), but you can only take advantage of it if your parents live with you at least half of each year that you claim them as a dependent.