If you are a caretaker for a loved one, take...

If you are a caretaker for a loved one, take financial care of yourself as well. Credit: Getty Images/Getty Images / asiseeit

It’s tough emotionally to care for an aging parent or loved one, and the financial stress a big issue too.  

According to a new survey from AARP New York, six in 10 family caregivers use their own money to care for a loved one. Forty three percent said doing so hurts their finances, and nearly half said it limits their ability to save for retirement.

The survey included more than 1,100 registered voters in New York over the age of 40 who were polled over the phone; it had a margin of error plus or minus 2.9 percent.

The stats tell the story of a generation struggling to take care of loved ones while also looking after themselves and their own families.

How best to take care of those who took care of you while also minding your own business? Experts weigh in.

First things first

Your financial security comes first. “Do not put your future and security on the line while taking care of a loved one. You will jeopardize both of your lives if a financial emergency happens and you can’t care for either of you. Make sure you are always putting money into your savings and retirement accounts,” says Matt Dworetsky, president of Dworetsky Financial in Wall, New Jersey.

Do some digging

Research government programs to aid caregivers or help pay expenses for the person who needs help. There are many programs that will help pay for housing, medication or additional help.  Find programs you qualify for to help alleviate the financial burden. "BenefitsCheckUp.org is a great, free resource that will show you all the programs you qualify for,” says Dworetsky.

Get a financial plan

A financial plan will help you clarify your goals and outline the steps needed to accomplish them. An action plan will help you stay focused on your finances. It will also make plain what you can and can’t do in terms of chipping in financially for your loved one.

“Isn’t it nice to feel in control of something?” says Patti Black, a certified financial planner with Bridgeworth Financial  in Birmingham, Alabama.

Take care of yourself

Says Black, “If you go down, everything else goes down with you! Breathe.”

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