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Becoming a family caregiver isn’t a job most people apply for. It usually is an inherited position that happens when an aging parent or grandparent can no longer care for themselves or a child or sibling is injured or diagnosed with a debilitating disease.

It’s stressful, intimidating, uncompensated and comes with a set of rules for which there’s no rulebook.

But there is help.

When you need to care for a loved one, Prosper Care Coordination can help you organize services like paying bills, setting up various legal documents and finding housing. We can’t take away the added workload that comes with being a caregiver. But our team can answer questions and connect caregivers with reputable services.

In this Q&A, Mike Shaft, president of Prosper, shares why he founded the company and how it’s the one place caregivers can go for the help they need.

Why did you start Prosper?

In my personal experience with grandparents and parents, I learned the hard way that there was no single integrated resource for trusted information. The caregiver space is dominated by single solutions to a single problem. But caregiving involves a multitude of problems with multiple challenges when you start, and different challenges appear over time.

What makes Prosper unique?

Our approach combines experienced, certified guides who will listen, recommend solutions and follow up with caregivers using a site with credible information to help educate caregivers on their journey. The services offered will grow, but we’re starting with three basic, vital areas that caregivers need to understand: legal documents, financial management tools and mail service.

What happens after a caregiver has those in order?

Those services empower caregivers. They gain confidence, reclaim some of their time and then also have a trusted guide to help them along the way. Our personal guides help create unique plans and anticipate next steps for their loved ones. It’s better to be prepared for those transitions up front, to ease everyone’s path.

How should a caregiver discuss finances, health decisions and other necessities of life with their loved one?

Those are conversations that, while difficult to have, can be done incrementally. You don’t have to take away Mom’s sense of dignity and independence. What you’re trying to do as a caregiver is preserve their safety and financial integrity, which we refer to as care management.

Mom doesn’t turn 67 and go into hospice the next day. As her acuity slips, maybe you can add more protection. But if you have the conversation before the need is there, you’ve already put things in place – and really taken her wishes into consideration. Now if she’s diagnosed with memory issues or incapacitated, you have a plan. You can let the plan mature as things develop.

How much does all of this cost?

There are about 45 million uncompensated caregivers in the U.S. who often have to make phone calls, schedule appointments and handle the busywork of caregiving during business hours. This affects their workday, their employer and their wallet. AARP estimates that family caregivers spend nearly $7,000 annually on expenses for their loved ones, in addition to the lost productivity at work.

But employers are increasingly aware of these challenges, and they’re adding Prosper to their benefits package as a way to relieve some of this stress.

That allows Prosper to offer guidance for no charge to employees who use it. Many of the services offered by our partners are free, and there are discounts on higher-tier options.

Caregiving is a journey, and they have someone there to help. No one should go through this alone.

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