Sunday, March 22, 2015

Financial Impact of Being a Caregiver

I am often very transparent about life. 
Why not--God needs to get the glory 
as I wrote in my book, 
Getting Off the Niceness Treadmill!
I do not need to get the glory.  

      We bought our home in 2001 within the first year of our marriage. In 2004 my husband had a heart attack and shortly thereafter the house was refinanced to include the car payment for our used Expedition. After his recovery, we both continued working. I retired from stressful full-time teaching in Polk County Schools in 2007. 

      In December of 2008 my husband and I were all set to begin some retirement years together.  However he was diagnosed with dementia. Six months after this diagnosis, my husband retired. I helped him draft a two weeks notice letter. I surmised that he was not able to remember new directions from his employers and felt he needed to give his two-week notice.

         Suddenly I would have to pull in more income. Eventually I decided to work as a substitute teacher in public schools and to continue my part-time position as an instructor for DUI classes. These two employment opportunities allowed me flexibility for my new role as a dementia caregiver.
         At some point our financial advisor who monitored my IRA suggested we take a second mortgage at a bank where he had a friend. The thought was that the second mortgage would help us maintain the property because undoubtedly it would go up in value before it would need to be sold.          
        I studied Alzheimer’s and kept a good credit rating I thought. We lived our life as best as we could and Sally and Jake gave us a used pop-up camper and we went camping with them. We had two cars until a crash in December of 2010 that I wrote about HERE, which totaled our best car. He stopped driving and I drove our 1999 gas-guzzler Expedition until December of 2013 when it would have taken $6000 to fix. We then purchased a newer used car HERE that he would be able to get into and out of much easier than the Expedition, which we had to give away. We again had car payments.

         In the later years of caregiving we had wonderful volunteers that enabled me to continue to work and my husband to continue to stay in our home. Kenny would come to check on him while I worked and Pharis would take care of our yard and repairs.
          In May of 2014 my husband was rapidly declining and it became apparent that I needed to stay home and not substitute teach, although I was contracted to teach DUI classes and couldn't get out of that.    
        With more decline it became harder for us to manage. There were two choices—a nursing home or Hospice. I chose Hospice. My husband loved our home and Hospice came into our home.  Not long after this decision, he passed away on June 23, 2014. A small life-insurance policy of $20,000 paid for the burial expenses and some of my expenses that summer. I expected to be substitute teaching again in August, but due to my husband’s death I had missed an important meeting for Kelly Services.  Without his Social Security, money became very tight.  Finally a month into the school year I again started substitute teaching and seeing if I could refinance the house with the first and second mortgages.

      The decision to sell was made during my 2014 Christmas vacation when I visited family in Huntsville, Alabama—I would sell and move there. In January I contacted the bank who held the first mortgage and explained the situation and I stopped paying automatically the first mortgage. Not paying the mortgage helped me survive and take care of needed repairs on the house including a new water softener to handle the rust problem. My realtor and my visiting Alabama brother explained the reality of the short-sell to me and I spent two months getting the house ready to sell. 

It had never occurred to me that I would have to downsize at this time, and to sell-short, but I will be happy to live in an apartment and to not burden my Huntsville family with having to downside and sell property in the future.  
      My highest value in the stressful life as a caregiver had been taking care of my late husband whom I loved so much.  There hadn’t been time to take care of myself or to assess the value of our property which we thought would increase by the time we would sell it.  
I am so glad for what I have and look forward to a simpler lifestyle in a two bedroom apartment where I will work on the seminary counseling dissertation on caregiving. Continue to pray for the sale of the home as the first buyer backed out this past week. Our home will be a golden find for someone and I look forward to my golden years in Huntsville, Alabama. 


  1. I think you did the best you could Carol with what you had to work with regaridng your finances. Through it all, God did provide for you and for your hubby and you gave your hubby a very good gift in him being able to spend his final time of his life in the house he enjoyed so much. I know there is a buyer for your house, hoping it will come sooner than later!


    1. Thanks for you understanding and prayers, Betty.