By Emily Barnes
Lifespan’s Financial Management program was there for caregiver Scott Sprague when the declining health of a family member impacted that person’s ability to handle their finances.
Over two years later, the program is still a support for Sprague and his family as they care for their loved one with dementia.
“Quite frankly, the financial side of it, you don’t think about it until all of a sudden you’re immersed in it,” Sprague said.
The volunteer-based program, which got its start in Monroe County about 20 years ago, is designed to help adults, 60 and older, manage their personal finances — bill paying, budgeting and balancing — and currently serves about 200 clients, according to Lifespan’s Financial Management program director Scott Fairchild.
In more recent years, the program expanded to neighboring Genesee County and eight additional counties across Western New York.
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“Ultimately, the goal of the program is to help these individuals maintain their financial independence and remain in their homes as long as possible,” Fairchild said.
For caregivers, like Sprague, Lifespan handles all of the involved finances and keeps him from having to utilize and pay for other external resources, such as seeking assistance from a financial planner.
“In approaching two-plus years using their services, there really hasn’t been an area in life that we’ve had to experience, and they haven’t been able to be there to support,” Sprague said. “The financial side of it has been very important.”
But if an issue that lands outside of Lifespan’s reach does arise, the organization works with Sprague to find external solutions to his family’s needs.
“You can’t be everything for everyone,” Sprague said. “There are a certain number of resources that they can bring to the table. If they don’t have that, they usually have a referral.”
Fairchild said 100% of the program’s clients surveyed by Lifespan during the second quarter of this year reported the service met their needs, according to Fairchild.
The program relies on volunteers, which were hard to come by during the pandemic.
Recently, though, the program has seen an uptick in its volunteer workforce — about 40 trained members meet with their clients monthly. But with a persistent need for the program’s services, Fairchild said they can never have enough volunteers.
“Our volunteers can kind of relieve a lot of anxiety that both the caregiver and the clients have around their financial situation,” Fairchild said. “This program would not be successful without our volunteer community.”
Emily Barnes is the New York State Team consumer advocate reporter for the USA TODAY Network. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on X @byemilybarnes.