The Hidden Costs of Family Caregiving
As baby boomers continue to age, the demand for family caregivers keeps climbing. These informal caregivers are spouses, adult children, friends grandchildren, and neighbors. They are 62 million strong and expected to almost double in ranks over the next 30 years. With the demands of caregiving, come some hidden costs families don’t often expect. It can lead to an adult child dipping in to their retirement fund or a child’s college fund to cover the expenses.
So what are the true costs of being a family caregiver?
- Direct costs of caregiving: Gas and other car-related expenses running back and forth from a senior loved one’s house can add up, as can the costs of prescriptions and other health care supplies. When the family member you are caring for lives with you, out-of-pocket caregiving expenses can total about $5,000 each year. If you are a long-distance caregiver, the costs of traveling to and from an aging family member’s home can be significant.
- Lost career opportunity costs: Almost half of all family caregivers say they've lost a job or have missed out on career advancement opportunities as a result of their caregiving duties. 37% of caregivers quit their job or cut back on hours to care for a loved one. Lost wages and benefits can add up quickly. Researchers at Caring.com found family caregivers can expect to spend an average of four years caring for a loved one. The median annual salary in this country is just under $29,000 per year. If a caregiver leaves their job for four years that equates a loss of $116,000, not counting lost benefits.
- Caregiver health care expenses: Family caregivers experience health problems of their own as a result of the demands this role places on them. A few health-related problems that often develop among caregivers include hypertension, diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol. Back problems and cardiac issues are also more common in caregivers than their non-caregiving peers. Depending upon your health care insurance copays and deductibles, you may find yourself spending thousands of dollars on your own health care while you are a caregiver.
The bottom line when you are debating the best and most cost-effective senior care solution is to be certain you are considering all the costs. You might be surprised at the true cost of caring for a senior love.