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Managing the Cost of Caregiving In California: Resources and Tips

Caregiving is an incredibly important and often overlooked role. It involves providing emotional, physical, and financial support to an aging or ailing loved one with a disability or illness. Managing the cost of caregiving can be daunting for family caregivers in California, who face unique challenges because of the high cost of living and relatively limited government assistance programs. Many who have not taken on this responsibility before don’t realize the financial toll it can take to provide care over time (in addition to the more obvious physical and emotional ones). In this blog post, we will explore some of the financial costs of caregiving, government assistance programs, community resources, and planning for the future.

What are the Financial Costs of Caregiving?

Caregiving often involves out-of-pocket expenses such as:

  • Medical supplies

  • Medications

  • Equipment rental or purchase

  • Transportation to and from doctor appointments

  • Home modification services

  • Etc.

These costs can add up quickly and become overwhelming for many caregivers. The average family caregiver pays an out-of-pocket $7,242 per year (AARP).

In addition to these expenses, many caregivers must take unpaid time off work or reduce their working hours in order to provide care for their loved one. This can result in lost wages or reduced earning potential over time, which impacts retirement savings and other long-term goals.

What Government Assistance Programs are Available?

Fortunately, there are several government assistance programs available in California that can help offset some of these costs.

  • Medicaid (also known as Medi-Cal in California) is a joint federal/state program designed to help people who have limited income and resources pay for medical expenses. Eligibility requirements vary depending on age, disability status, income level, etc., so it’s important to research what types of assistance may be available through Medicaid/Medi-Cal before applying.

  • Besides Medicaid/Medi-Cal, there are also state-funded programs such as In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS), which pay eligible caregivers for providing care in the home setting rather than having the person move into a nursing facility or other type of residential setting.

  • Other state-funded programs offer respite care services (temporary relief from caregiving duties) as well as home modification services that make it easier for elderly persons to remain at home safely despite physical impairments caused by aging or illness.

What About Community Resources?

In addition to government assistance programs, there are also numerous community resources available in California that can help make caregiving easier and more affordable.

  • Your local California Caregiver Resource Center (if you’re in Orange County, that’s us!). We have 11 Centers across California ready to connect you to personalized resources that make the caregiving journey a little less daunting. Create a FREE CareNav account to get access to these resources today.

  • Local support groups provide educational opportunities and emotional support while respite care centers offer brief stays away from home where caregivers can rest and recharge without worrying about their loved one's safety or well-being while they are away.

  • Adult daycare centers provide daytime supervision when family members are not available.

  • Community home modification services (often offered by churches and non-profits) make it easier for elderly persons to remain at home safely despite physical impairments caused by aging or illness.

Other Resources

If you do some digging, there are likely legal and financial assistance options available in your area. These services may be paid, including things like:

  • Long-term care insurance policies. Look for policies designed specifically for individuals who need ongoing custodial care due to chronic health conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

Or they could be pro bono (free), offering assistance for things like:

  • Organizing some estate planning documents like advanced directives. These allow individuals to name someone else (such as a family member) who will make healthcare decisions on their behalf if they become unable due to illness or injury. Note: Advanced directives are usually only valid when made of clearly sound body and mind, so don’t wait too long to put these in place.

  • Our YouTube channel. For additional resources, ideas, and insights, check out our free library of YouTube videos. A Successful Caregiving Journey - Livestream

The Importance of Managing the Cost of Caregiving: Closing Thoughts

Family caregivers play an invaluable role in providing essential services for those who cannot do so themselves due to age or disability. But caring for another person often comes with significant financial costs that must be taken into consideration.

There are many government assistance programs and community resources available in California that can help defray some of those costs. That’s why we work so hard to connect caregivers to local resources. We believe that as a caregiver, you have a right to understand what types of help may be available before committing yourself financially so you don’t end up shouldering the burden alone. With careful planning and knowledge about what kinds of help may be available through government programs or local resources, you can ensure that you have all your bases covered when providing essential caregiving services for your loved one.

If you are a caregiver in Orange County, consider reaching out to the California Caregiver Resource Center of Orange County for support. We can help you navigate the challenges of caregiving and find resources to help you and your loved one.

Join our Facebook Group

If you’re looking for a community of caregivers that truly understands what you’re going through. A group you can turn to when you have questions, frustrations, or need advice? Join our California Family Caregivers Facebook group today.

Our California Family Caregivers Facebook group is a safe space for caregivers across different communities in California to speak about their caregiving journey and interact with one another. Join us today.


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