When a senior loved one’s health begins to decline, adult children and other close family members often step in to help. From assisting around the house to preparing meals and providing transportation, the responsibilities begin to climb. What often catches family caregivers off guard are the hidden expenses. Some expenses are small and intermittent; others are ongoing and add up over time.
If you are weighing the costs of keeping a senior at home versus helping them move to an assisted living community, here are a few hidden caregiver expenses you shouldn’t overlook.
Caregiver Expenses Not to Overlook
- Wear and tear on your car: This one isn’t an obvious expense, but it can leave a dent in your wallet. Expenses for gas, oil changes, tires, and brakes add up quickly when you are driving more on a senior’s behalf. Pharmacy pickups, grocery store runs, and physician appointments cause wear and tear on your vehicle. If your car is leased, you might exceed the mileage limit, which will result in added fees.
- Lost wages and advancement opportunities: Family caregivers are often forced to cut back their work hours to care for a loved one. That means lost wages and benefits. Sometimes an employee who is a caregiver is overlooked for promotions because an employer knows their time is already spread thin. If a caregiver leaves the workforce for a few years, they might have a harder time reentering it when their caregiving days are over.
- Increased food and utility costs: If you move a senior loved one into your home to make caring for them easier, you’ll incur more household expenditures. From higher water usage to greater food costs, your home budget will probably need to be adjusted. If your house isn’t senior-friendly, home modifications are another expense to explore.
- Personal health expenses: It isn’t uncommon for caregivers to begin experiencing health problems of their own. Being responsible for the care and well-being of another person is exhausting and stressful. Caregivers have higher incidences of digestive issues, back pain, headaches, and more. This can translate to more healthcare expenses, such as co-pays at physician offices and prescription medications.
- Lost personal time: This is an expense of a different kind. While you might view caregiving as a labor of love—which it is—it comes at a price. When you are busy caring for a senior loved one, you might be forced to give up time with friends and family members. Missing out on important milestones is often an unfortunate reality for many caregivers. One solution to consider is short-term respite care. It provides caregivers with time to enjoy themselves while knowing their senior loved one is safe at an assisted living community.
If you have a question about caregiving or would like to learn more about respite care, call Five Star at (617) 796-8387. We’ll be happy to help!