Crunching the Costs of Caregiving

Looking after ailing family members can be draining financially, as well as emotionally

Caregivers incur financial as well as emotional costs. They spend their own money, and may work fewer hours or leave their jobs entirely. They are also more likely to become ill themselves.
More than a third of caregivers quit their jobs or reduce work hours, affecting work benefits, retirement savings and Social Security.1
Leaving a job you love. Increasing your stress levels. Putting aside your own needs and those of your family to care for an aging parent or loved one. These are just some of the costs you can incur when you take on the role of family caregiver. And that’s before considering the financial impact.

If you tally up the caregiving expenses of extra food, transportation, co-pays and prescriptions — then factor in that more than a third of caregivers quit their jobs or reduce work hours, affecting work benefits, retirement savings and Social Security2 — and the costs to the caregiver are significant.

Some caregiver cost statistics:
  • Annual average out-of-pocket costs for caregivers total $5,5313 and for long-distance caregiving it jumps up to $8,728.3
  • Lifetime losses (including lost wages, pensions, Social Security benefits) on female caregivers is $324,044 and $283,716 for male.4

Costs for other eldercare options5:
  • $222/day for a semi-private room in a nursing home
  • $3,550/month for an assisted living facility
  • $21/hour for a home health aide
  • $20/hour for homemaker services
  • $70/day for an adult daycare/health care center

If you anticipate that you might be in the role of family caregiver sometime in your lifetime — or if you already find yourself taking care of a loved one — reach out to others and take steps now to preserve your financial and emotional well-being. Talk to your parent or family member to discuss their plans and preferences. If you have siblings, decide how best to share responsibilities. Discuss your current situation, and that of your loved one with your financial advisor. And look into outside resources such as adult day care or part-time in-home care that can provide you some relief.
Learn more about informal caregiving from the National Family Caregivers Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Healthy Aging program, and the National Alliance for Caregiving. The National Women’s Health Information Center also offers information on the stress arising from caregiving.

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