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How do you manage the financial hardship of serious illness? 
Started by moderator | modératrice
25 Aug 2013, 11:37 PM

The financial hardship due to serious illness is a burden many have to bear. Caregivers sometimes have to give up their jobs. The ill person may be the sole breadwinner of the household. Freelancers wonder if the contracts will stop coming in if they say no to too many contracts.

Sure there are financial assistance programs from the government, but often they are not enough.

What has been your experience? How have you coped with the financial strain?   

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Reply by marstin
30 Aug 2013, 6:50 PM


I don't know how many times I've started to answer this then walked away because it is a tough subject for me yet I know that I can't be alone in finding out how tough things can get.

Approximately 2 to 2 1/2 years ago life as we knew it began to quickly unravel. My partner Len had been doing contract work for mining companies and life was good. I had been a stay at home mom for over 18 years. Each time one job would end it would quickly be followed by a new one. My healthy guy suffered a heart attack and managed to bounce back quickly but was unable to find work for awhile after that. When he finally did we were already struggling financially, then he had a brain incident which made it difficult to think clearly and we blamed it on the stress of the job so he had to quit. This downhill spiral continued as he struggled to find work and although his thinking had cleared, the jobs weren't coming in. We began having to use charge cards to pay our mortgage and the bills but were so sure that things would get better. Then he began having lower back pain and in time it was determined that he had bladder cancer. Always being optimists we believed that he would beat this. As there was no money coming in, we made the decision to remortgage our home and take out a second mortgage to do some home renovations. In hindsight we would have been wiser to sell our home, pay off our mortgage and downsize. When we finally got the news that his cancer was terminal our world turned upside down. I remember this kind, loving man going to a job interview about a month before he passed trying to do what was right. By the time he got home he knew that there was no way that he could work. After he passed away, I was thrown into a world of the unknown. My rock was gone and I was left dealing with debt collectors, will related issues, contractors that he had hired, income tax issues that he never dealt with and all financial things that he had always taken care of.  The small amount of money that was given as a death benefit was so minimal. I receive a tiny amount of money monthly but it's barely enough to pay for hydro and put gas in my car.

A year later, I am still feeling like I'm treading water yet I have learned so much about the world of finance and the ups and downs of it. I have managed to deal with much of the debt but cannot afford to keep our home. I have used up the money that we had managed to have from the remortgaging and now have to sell our home and walk away with very little money to face the future. I am frightened beyond belief as I try to figure out what the future will bring for my daughters and I and how we will survive financially.

Our daughters have learned that depending on someone to make all of the decisions or be the only breadwinner is not a wise thing and that they should not ever allow themselves to fall into the debt pit that we did.

The only words of advice to anyone else walking this road is to think ahead and get all affairs in order. Make wise decisions when your head is fairly clear. Trying to grieve, worry about finances and everything else that comes at you is next to impossible.

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Reply by NatR
23 Sep 2013, 10:50 PM

Dear Tracie,

you are definitely giving good advice and you are not alone.  

I agree that on top of dealing with a serious illness and a passing is complicated by adding the stress of how to deal with afterwards.  The cost of burial, services, typing up loose ends, and how to pay for it all must be the worst thing ever.

Dealing with how to minimize expenses, have affordable housing, and figure out how to survive after the passing of a loved one - has got to be on top of the list.

your advice to everyone is important.  Get someone, through friend, family or other recommendations - to advise on the best way to deal with debt, what is best, selling, renovating, or downsizing, etc.

those going through grief and loss are in need of some good pointers on what to do first.

thanks for sharing your experience - hoping that you know you have gained tools, knowledge and strength in your own story, and have insights to pass on to your children, to others who may need to consider life changes due to sickness and loss 

thank you and best wishes,
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Reply by Sue B
17 Mar 2014, 6:18 PM

Hi Tracie,
I hope things are easier for you than they were last year.
I was thinking, though, as I read your story, that if you could put your experiences down in a book  it might a) help others in a similar situation, and b) bring some money in. It's just a thought.
Wishing you the best for the future,
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Reply by marstin
17 Mar 2014, 7:00 PM

Hi Sue,

Thank you for your kind words. (I talk to Nat quite regularly so she has the inside scoop on my world). I would never have considered writing a book for others in the same situation but it certainly does give me something to think about since I know how difficult it can be and what a learning process it is.

On top of losing Len, I have had to deal with the loss of my mom just weeks after him and deal with many estate issues this past year that threatened to destroy me. Due to lack of family support I have learned it all the hard way but have found that there are many kind hearted strangers who have helped me along the way. I found a wonderful accountant to do Len's taxes and he has become a good friend to me. I just wish that the outcome of that was a more positive thing but it's just another huge hurdle that I still have to work through with the CRA to see if they will give me a bit of a break. At least I am not feeling so overwhelmed by it. The man with my second mortgage has been wonderful. We talk from time to time and the past nine months or so, he hasn't taken any payments from me as he waits for me to sell my home. My daughters and I are still preparing for putting our house on the market (Very soon) but we are not as frightened of the future as we were. Mixing financial strain in with losing loved ones has nearly broken us at times but we have learned so much and for that knowledge I am grateful. We have learned strength when it seemed like the whole world was against us and an enormous amount of compassion for others who are struggling. I know that many of the people around us have learned through our pain to get their affairs in order now and not leave loose ends for others to clean up. I sometime's wish that I hadn't been the one to have to set the example but I guess someone had to do it.

Thanks again.
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Reply by KathCull_admin
07 Mar 2015, 7:25 PM

In 2012, on Caregiving and Finances a member Jachro wrote, “I have been working at a non-health care related job for the past five years and although I am not financially ready to retire, I have to. My father is 87 and needs me at home full time. He refuses to have outside help come in and refuses to consider a nursing home due to the added financial burden that would cause. I have searched everywhere on the "net" for some kind of long term financial assistance for a caregiver. As an only child the onus is on me to take on this added responsibility and I do so gladly. But I really can't afford to not work. If anyone has any ideas on how or where to find some kind of assistance I would be most appreciative."

Do you share any of these concerns? What suggestions would you offer in 2015?



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Reply by oldbat
08 Mar 2015, 11:42 PM

Hi everyone,

Xenia posted the following recently:

I know some on CVH would be interested to know that (the new tax break for care-givers) reads like this: "If at any time in 2014 you (either alone or with another person) maintained a residence where you and the person you supported lived (a spouse or common-law partner is not considered your dependant for this purpose) you may be able to claim a maximum of $4,530. under the Caregiver Amount, for each eligible dependant.

Speaking as one care-giver who is totally responsible for my spouse physically, mentally, emotionally and financially, I could not believe my eyes when I read that.  What total idiot in Ottawa came up with it???  Person or persons unknown who are totally oblivious to the vast amounts of money we care-givers save the **** government every year. 

I pay for everything Karl needs, outside room and board at the home.  Clothes, shoes, dental care, eye care, Wheel Trans tickets, treats, outings, Kleenex, toothpaste, extra physio, medications, and on and on, all out of my CPP and OAS.  His pensions only cover his LTC care.  But somehow all this is irrelevant to those idiots in Ottawa.  I can't afford to go out for lunch or dinner with a friend, see a movie, go to a concert, see a play.  Those pleasures are forfeit to Karl's needs.  And his needs mean the world to me.  I meet them gladly.  But to be told that all that I do amounts to nothing in government eyes because he is my spouse.  Vote those ********s out.  Fast.

outraged oldbat

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