Finance
7
min read

How To Manage The Rising Cost of Living on a Fixed Income

The rising cost of living causes many seniors to struggle with meeting their financial obligations. This can lead to seniors cutting expenses by skipping meals, rationing medication, canceling appointments and more. There are some strategies that you can use to help your loved one continue to have their needs met while covering their expenses.
Published on
September 15, 2022
Presented by Givers
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Unfortunately, millions of senior citizens have sacrificed their basic needs to deal with the rising cost of living. Seniors on a fixed income especially can't make ends meet. What does that mean? The elderly skip necessary medical treatment, ration medication, or cut back significantly on groceries. Too many elderly adults, especially veterans or those suffering from untreated mental health issues, end up homeless. How do rising costs specifically impact seniors?

How does inflation affect older adults?

The overall cost of living is rising exponentially, but most seniors live on a fixed income. To date, inflation has risen by 11%. Costs of medication, housing, groceries, and medical care have also risen as supply chain issues cause prices to rise and rise.

Your family member will see a significant decrease in purchasing power. Their retirement funds will not stretch as far as they had planned. Austere budgets for fixed-income adults mean they may have to change their living arrangements or move in with a family member to avoid homelessness. 

Many seniors find that their overall healthcare suffers. They may skip doctor appointments because of cost or stretch out their medication. Unfortunately, this leads to a higher incidence of physical illness and even death. Telehealth and other cost-saving medical options help offset rising costs, but not all elderly adults will take advantage of these programs. 

This increase also affects you as a family caregiver. Most family caregivers spend a quarter of their earnings helping an elderly relative. Savings devalue over time with inflation. Can you get paid for taking care of a family member? It depends on your state and whether you meet stringent government requirements. If your family member has a fixed income, family members will need to pitch in.

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5 ways to manage rising costs on a fixed income

What can you do? There are a few ways you can help your parent hopefully not just survive but thrive even in this economy. 

1. Reevaluate the budget

Cut out unnecessary extras to save money. For example, reduce eating out, opt for generic brands, and apply to drug-saving programs for medication. Always prioritize rent/mortgage, food, medication, and healthcare. This might mean selling the family car, canceling extra subscription services, and limiting retail store credit card use or online spending. 

Having an honest conversation about the budget with your parent will be difficult. Tighter budgeting affects their independence, especially if they have lived successfully alone for a long time. Be empathetic and honest as your work together to help them budget.

2. Pool family resources

Multigenerational households are common in most cultures. In the United States, many adult children have found themselves moving their parents back into the family home. This can save significantly on transportation, grocery, and overall living costs. Consider this possibility if your parent lives on a fixed income. You may need to arrange for a nurse to visit or take advantage of local senior daycare centers to help you manage a good life balance. 

3. Apply to government programs

Several programs like the VA program, Medicare, and state programs will allow your loved one to allocate their funds towards a family caregiver. Other programs give subsidies and aid to elderly adults. Programs include: 

  • Housing and Urban Development Programs
  • Medicare
  • State Programs
  • Medicaid
  • Senior Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program
  • Commodity Supplemental Food Program
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
  • USDA Housing Repair Grants
  • VA programs
  • ICanConnect
  • Drug Assistance programs

Many helpful resources can help your elderly parent subsidize the cost of living, medication, groceries, and more. Take the time to research the best programs available in your state.

Find government programs for which your loved on might be eligible >>

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Can you get paid to care for your loved one?

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4. Extra income

Many able-bodied seniors return to the workforce part-time to earn extra income. It is not unusual to see multigenerational workers at your local restaurant or shop. Some elderly adults like the sense of purpose working give them. Regular work helps them maintain a routine and provides additional income. However, be sure to see if there are any income requirements for any government programs that would be affected by extra income. Always check that the workplace treats your family member fairly, provides enough breaks, and has an excellent safety record. 

Your parent might rent out part of their home or bring in a roommate. Some assisted living facilities offer lower living costs if your parent shares their room. A roommate or boarder has the added benefit of companionship and possible friendship. Vet any possible boarders. Look for people in your community that you know and trust to protect your parent. For modest extra income, consider selling large ticket items like furniture or an unused vehicle. Have an estate sale if you need to move your parent out of their family home. 

5. Enjoy life

Spending less money does not mean the overall quality of life needs to suffer. Always prioritize enjoying life and maintaining overall wellness. Enjoy the simple things. A walk in the park or a delicious family dinner doesn't cost much. Find little splurges and social activities to increase the quality of life. Many seniors had hoped their golden years would be spent touring Europe and going on world cruises. But there is a lot of living to do, right in their community. Help your loved one make the most of every day. 

A note from Givers

As the economy squeezes elderly adults, take the time to help your parent find ways to save money while still enjoying the essence of life. You may need to pool together family resources or help them budget. Fortunately, post-Covid there are many government programs available to help struggling elderly adults. Together you can help your loved one enjoy life, no matter the financial struggles. That's what family caregiving is all about.

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