As our population continues to gray, the number of family caregivers is soaring. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, an estimated 34.2 million Americans provided unpaid care to an adult aged 50 or older in the last 12 months. When a loved one’s health begins to decline, families may assume that providing care themselves is more cost-effective than a move to an assisted living community.
What families often discover, however, is that the true cost of keeping a loved one at home can be very high. Not only are there financial expenses associated with caring for a loved one, there are mental and physical health costs too.
The Reality of Being a Family Caregiver
While caregiving can be a rewarding experience for family members, it can also take quite a toll on their own health and financial state. In a study from the AARP, families provided $600 billion in unpaid care for loved ones in 2021. That represents a $190 billion increase from 2019!
That figure comes from 38 million caregivers providing an average of 18 hours of care per week at an average value of $16.59 per hour. These tasks range from assisting with personal care and dressing to performing clinical duties, such as wound care and giving injections.
Added to those responsibilities is the fact that almost two-thirds of family caregivers also work full- or part-time jobs. It’s a juggling act that leaves adult children feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Many neglect their own health because there just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day to do the things we all know are important for our well-being: eat right, exercise, and see the doctor for preventative health screenings.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), family caregivers experience more negative health consequences than their non-caregiving peers:
- Anxiety and depression
- Compromised immune system
- Back and neck pain
- Stomachaches and headaches
- Unintentional weight gain or loss
Loss of Income and Future Earnings
Before assuming the role of caregiver to a senior loved one, family members should also consider how their finances will be impacted. Because caregiving can become a full-time job over time, many people end up taking a leave of absence, cutting back their hours or retiring early from the workforce. This leads to lost wages and benefits now and into the future.
A study from MetLife found that the typical female family caregiver will sacrifice an average of $143,000 in wages. And that figure doesn’t include lost pension or Social Security benefits. Even if they eventually do return to the workforce, a family caregiver might find themselves starting over with respect to wages and benefits.
Explore Senior Living Options
When a senior can no longer live independently in their home or if their care needs are too extensive for family members to manage, it’s important to consider all your options. Transitioning to an assisted living community or healthcare center may often be a good solution. It offers many benefits ranging from opportunities for socialization to greater safety and security. To find a location near you, visit ASCCare.com.
Call the American Senior Communities location nearest you to learn more or to schedule a private visit today!