Being the family caregiver for your aging parent can take a toll on your finances and your personal life.
At some point in our lives, we will either need a caregiver or we will become one. Many adult children automatically become the family caregiver as parents age and need assistance around the house or with everyday tasks. When it comes to providing some sort of assistance to aging parents, many adult children are thrust into the situation unexpectedly. When this happens, it can have serious economic implications for an individual.
A recent survey from AARP indicates that 38 percent of family caregivers – those who take care of a family member, such as an aging parent, for free – report spending more than 25 hours a week providing this unpaid work.
According to the Home Care Association of America, 60 percent of family caregivers report making work accommodations – such as taking a leave of absence, arriving late, passing up a promotion or retiring early. The stress and distractions of caregiving can reduce productivity at work and put a strain on one’s mental and physical health, which also comes at a cost to employers.
The Cost of Caregiving
Caregiving can have an enormous financial impact on the lives of people who find themselves in this role. They often spend their own money as part of their caregiving contribution. A 2017 AARP study found that family caregivers spend an average of $7,954 on out-of-pocket costs related to caregiving, nearly 20 percent of their annual income.
Here are some potential caregiving expenses you could incur or should at least consider as a family caregiver:
- Travel expenses, especially if your parent lives in another state.
- Meals for you and the person you are caring for.
- The cost of gas while driving to and from medical appointments and errands.
- Medical expenses above what health insurance, Medicaid or supplemental health insurance will pay, including prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, incontinence supplies, etc.
- Housecleaning or home maintenance services.
- Personal care or respite care.
- Medical assistance devices such as wheelchairs, walkers, mobility aids, etc.
- Home modifications such as ramps and handlebars or handicap accommodations.
To cover these extra expenses, you, or your family caregiver, may have to:
- Pare back your own spending
- Cut back on saving for retirement
- Reduce and/or stop working altogether to care for your aging parent
- Dip into personal or retirement savings
- Be more cautious in leisure spending, such as eating out and taking vacations
Family caregiving does, however, provide some cost savings to the care recipient. People who have the help of a family caregiver tend to have shorter hospital stays; those who don’t have a higher chance of hospital admission and readmission.
We understand the financial and physical demands that come with family caregiving. At FirstLight we provide senior care services that are affordable. Whether it’s a couple hours a week or overnight care, we can recommend the best in-home, senior and respite care to fit your family needs.
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