Family Caregivers Pay a High Price for Taking Care of Loved Ones

Photo (cc) by mynameisharsha

Caring for an aging loved one can take a toll physically and emotionally. But it also has a significant impact on your pocketbook, employment and retirement plans.

According to a new survey from Caring.com, 46 percent of family caregivers (people who take care of a friend or relative for free) spend more than $5,000 a year to care for a loved one, and many people spend much more. Caregiving costs, including medical bills, medications, in-home care and sometimes nursing homes, really add up. Caring.com wrote:

“Caregiving can be a startlingly expensive endeavor that most people aren’t financially prepared for,” said Caring.com CEO Andy Cohen. “But yet only 3 in 10 caregivers have spoken to their loved ones about how to pay for care. Having an open and honest conversation about finances is a sensitive, but necessary discussion to have.”

Caregiving can also impact current employment and future retirement plans. Because of the amount of time required to take care of their loved one, one-third of those surveyed said they devote at least 30 hours per week to caregiving, and 50 percent of caregivers said they had to change their work schedule, they miss work or they often show up late or leave early. Sixty percent of survey respondents said their caregiving duties have a negative effect on their job.

The financial strain of caregiving can put a dent in the money caregivers are able to save for retirement, leading some to work longer or invest less for retirement. Cohen said:

Family caregivers, especially baby boomers, run the risk of derailing their retirement plans if they don’t prepare for the costs associated with caregiving. Almost half of caregivers spend $25,000 on caregiving in just five years – that’s a significant chunk of money that could delay retirement by a couple of years.

If the financial burden isn’t difficult enough, many caregivers end up dealing with health issues of their own. “Many also struggled with health problems related to their caregiving, ranging from increased blood pressure to depression,” Forbes said.

Caring.com’s report was based on surveys of more than 1,300 caregivers.

When I was in high school, I remember my dad and his sisters struggling to figure out how to care for their aging father, whose health was beginning to fail. My grandpa lived on his own, and his closest family was five hours away. They discussed caring for him themselves or moving him into an assisted-living center.

In the end, my grandpa ended up passing away before any decision was made.

There are so many factors to consider beyond money when planning how to take care of a loved one.

Are you a family caregiver? Share your experiences below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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