While for 72% of Americans mild financial concerns seem to be a normal part of life, these feelings seem to intensify with age – and, today, over a third of seniors (36%) report dealing with “major financial stress”.
Financial anxiety is all but a negligible condition, which can take a severe toll on a person’s mental and physical well-being, and lead to insomnia, depression, and a weakened immune system.
Luckily, there is a lot that nursing homes can do to help patients under their care overcome financial anxiety.
Identifying the Causes of Financial Anxiety
The ultimate purpose of a nursing home is to help seniors live a dignified life by looking after every aspect of everyday life – including physical wellbeing, emotional health, nutrition, hygiene, and socialization.
In such a comprehensive care framework, nursing homes can’t overlook the impact that poor finances and financial anxiety can have on a person’s ability to live with purpose, access healthcare, and keep mental disorders at bay.
That is why care should begin with gaining an understanding of what the root cause of a patient’s financial anxiety is. According to insights published by the Federal Reserve, the most common causes of financial anxiety vary according to a person’s age.
For example, those between 40 and 59 are mostly affected by the loss of a job or reduced income. Instead, over 36% of adults aged 60-69 report health-related financial stress as the main cause of their anxiety. Unpaid taxes, unexpected expenses, bankruptcies, and divorces are also common causes of financial stress for seniors.
Creating a Budgeting Plan and Reducing Expenses
The services offered by a nursing home may vary depending on specialties, location, and qualifications. However, in most cases, facilities can provide their residents with money management and budgeting services.
While it’s vital for nursing homes to understand and respect each patient’s right to manage their own money, caregivers can help residents gain better control over their income and expenses through budgeting and financial literacy.
For example, using the budget tracking app from SoFi, seniors can benefit from a comprehensive view of their finances, set up recurring payments, direct money into trust funds, and limit unnecessary costs. All this plays a crucial role in fighting the feeling of overwhelm that contributes to financial anxiety.
Educating Seniors About Sources of Financial Help
Paying for long-term care in a nursing home can be a major source of stress for seniors, especially if they are unable to age in place. However, caregivers can ease their anxiety and financial concerns by educating them about sources of financial help and assistance, including:
- State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)
- Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE)
- The National Council on Aging’s directory for Federal and State benefit programs
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Assistance
- SSDI and SSI
Working With a Trusted Financial Advisor
While most nursing homes offer financial management services for their residents, some situations might require the expertise of a skilled financial advisor. For example, seniors who have experienced a divorce, bankruptcy, or major financial setback might feel overwhelmed by their circumstances, and unable to get back on their feet.
A financial advisor can help them identify the best strategy for their needs, which might include financial tools such as:
- Life insurance with accelerated death benefits
- Long-term care insurance for nursing home care
- Tax-free reverse mortgages for seniors over 65 who own equity in a real estate property
- Trusts that can help seniors pay for care, including charitable remainder trusts
Finding a Care Plan That Suits Their Financial Needs
Residential care in a nursing home might be the best option for seniors who are unable to live independently or age in place. However, this can also be a source of great financial stress which, in turn, can be highly detrimental to their health and well-being.
For caregivers, breaking this cycle and finding a care strategy that meets the needs and budget of each patient should be top priorities.
That is why nursing homes should work with their patients to understand whether other solutions – such as ongoing personal care at home and assisted living – might be better options to ease their financial anxiety and live healthier and more dignified lives.