Five Avoidable Caregiver Mistakes

Trend alert or rather, trend-to-be alert. I recently heard of a new concept that sounds like a caregiver's dream: a team of professionals from various disciplines (i.e. legal, financial, caregiving) who specialize in aging issues. Someone on the team steers you to other experts you need - and may not even realize you need. These pros confer to make sure all your bases are covered.

Rod Chamberlin, a financial planner in Irvine, California, has one such team. Besides a financial planner and eldercare lawyer, it includes a senior care placement expert, long-term care specialist, family advocate aka mediator, personal business facilitator (helps Mom cancel subscriptions and insurance, arrange documents, pay bills) and geriatric psychiatrist.

Clients hire whichever specialists they need and pay each separately.

I asked Chamberlin for the most common mistakes his group sees boomers make regarding their parents' financial, legal, and care decisions. This applies to you, too!

Here are his top five:

  1. Becoming vulnerable to scammers and unqualified professionals. "It doesn't just happen to dumb people," says Chamberlin. "I've seen professionals whose parents were scammed!"
  2. Not having proper legal, financial, and healthcare documents. At the least, you need power of attorney, a will and/or trusts and an advanced care directive.
  3. Misunderstanding your options for senior care and how to pay for it: assisted living vs. a nursing home vs. memory care. They're different, as is Medicare and Medicaid. Do you qualify for benefits i.e. a veteran or spouse of a vet may be eligible for paid in-home or long-term care? Some long-term care life insurance policies pay in advance on a death benefit (tax-free cash now), and, in some situations, a reverse mortgage makes sense to help bankroll care costs.
  4. Holding inappropriate investments and/or selling investments that trigger unnecessary taxes. A professional can identify the best assets to sell (to pay for care or simply maximize investments) that won't have a big tax impact.
  5. Not taking advantage of tax credits, exemptions, exclusions and deductions. If you qualify, you may be able to claim your parent as a dependent or write off healthcare costs, for instance.

Chamberlin's model is new; there aren't many like it - yet. If you can't find a similar group, then look for a legal or financial pro able to coordinate efforts with other specialists.

Follow Sally Abrahms at and on Twitter.

Search AARP Blogs

Related Posts
December 06, 2015 09:00 AM
Now, in the thick of the holiday season, many of us who are family caregivers are facing even more stress than usual, with relatives' visits and extra items on our to-do lists. That makes this a perfect time for us to connect with our fellow caregivers for support and advice. While we can't all gather in-person, of course, came up with something much easier: a virtual  Holiday Progressive Blog Party, and I’m thrilled to participate. Visit the site to find links to a range of caregiving blogs and — if you blog, too — share information about your own.
November 19, 2015 10:09 AM
Thanksgiving is approaching and families across the nation will be gathering to eat, maybe watch TV and, I hope, enjoy time together. But one of the most common questions I get this time of year is, “How can I get the generations in our family to interact more?” This year I have a great answer: Participate in StoryCorps’ Great Thanksgiving Listen using its new free app.
November 12, 2015 09:27 AM
I’m excited about AARP's current  caregiving awareness campaign, to recognize and support America’s 40 million family caregivers. The campaign coincides with November’s National Family Caregivers Month.