Many of us are caregivers – for our parents, brothers or sisters, or other relatives – and don’t even think about the financial demands it places on us. Maybe you are a caregiver who provides “hands on” care right now, but may be called upon to provide financial assistance for your care recipient in the future. In addition to the emotional demands placed on caregivers, it’s important to consider the financial consequences.
If it’s possible to plan ahead, this helps to avoid some costly mistakes so you don’t get yourself in a financial bind. If you’re taking care of a parent, for instance, what is their
income and assets? Can you spread any financial expenses around to other family
members? Is there any aid they can take advantage of such as the Aid and Assistance Allowance from the Veteran’s Administration?
Here’s some caregiving expenses you need to think about:
- Travel expenses.
- Food and meals.
- Transportation or gas in driving to medical appointments & errands.
- Time away from work or eventually having to quit
your job or change your status to part-time to take care of someone full-time.
- Medical expenses above what health insurance, Medicaid or supplemental health insurance will pay including prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, incontinence supplies, etc.
- Housecleaning services.
- Personal care or respite care.
- Medical assistance devices such as MedAlert, wheelchairs, walkers, mobility aids, etc.
- Home modifications such as ramps and handlebars or handicap accommodations.
According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, long term caregiving has significant financial
consequences for caregivers: informal caregivers personally lose about $659,139 over a lifetime: $25,494 in Social Security benefits; $67,202 in pension benefits; and $566,443 in forgone wages.
To pay for the added expense of caring for another person, families often cut back on their own vacation or leisure time activities, take on additional jobs or a loan, reduce annual contributions to savings plans or IRAs and delay their home improvement projects.
Wouldn’t it be great if more financial help was available to family caregivers? Although there have been recent attempts by Congress to pass tax legislation giving caregivers some relief from long-term care expenses, it’s never been a high priority. Yet is should be. A federal investment in family caregiver support is needed now more than ever.
Wouldn’t you agree?