I know there are other people on the forum who have family members who are disabled. How has it affected how your family deals with money? I handle the money in our family because my spouse became disabled 5 years ago (ruptured brain aneurysm). Yet, it’s a struggle at times for my spouse to accept that he can’t just go out and blow money. It’s a struggle for me to deal with him, and still work towards catching up our retirement savings. Just looking for some empathy.
Hi Kathy, I can totally sympathize although I’m not a primary caregiver like you are. My dad has MS and has had it since I was born, but it really kicked into high gear in 2014 after he had two major surgeries. He wen’t from making $120k a year to on disability and now he’s essentially bedridden. My family, primarily my parents, have been greatly affected in terms of money (for obvious reasons), and this experience is one of the reasons I preach caution in the personal finance community when it comes to topics like FIRE. I know how quickly things can take a bad turn.
My wife and I don’t have true disability.
But we have chronic diseases and multiple health issues. It affects us a lot.
It is part of why I cut down to part-time at work.
It adds to our annual health expenses.
I’m “uninsurable” for life insurance.
I’m wary to leave employment and possibly lose health insurance coverage.
It limits our risk taking and spontaneity. We are less likely to travel, move, start a business etc.
We have less time and less energy for any side gigs.
We spend more on baby sitters, grocery shopping delivery, disability insurance, house cleaning, and handyman services.
A significant minority of my readers are dealing with military disability. Joints and spinal vertebrae are probably the common denominator but there’s also service-connected PTS, respiratory issues, TBI, cancer, and dementia.
I know this because of their questions about finances, insurance, and estate planning. There’s a lot of caregiver stress. There’s also navigating the bureaucracy of the VA, Social Security, and community programs. Ironically those who need the most support are the ones who are least able to deal with the exams & paperwork obstacles.
The military culture emphasizes being tough and leads to hiding career-impacting physical or medical symptoms (let alone injuries), and those self-inflicted behaviors continue long after we’re out of uniform.
Donna Freedman and her daughter Abby also share their lives and dig into various solutions with her “Playbook For Tough Times” volumes and their sites.
Going through the VA disability screening process for minor issues makes me appreciate how the system is more oriented on minimizing fraud than on optimizing benefits for people who struggle to obtain them.
All of this puts my knee injuries/arthritis into their proper perspective. That doesn’t affect our finances, and so far it hasn’t affected our family. Taking care of my Dad’s finances and health insurance during his Alzheimer’s has given me an appreciation for the impact of caregiver stress, but it has to be experienced to be truly understood.