An estimated 66 million Americans - approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population – are serving as unpaid family caregivers. There’s no question that being a caregiver is emotionally and physically challenging, but many individuals underestimate the financial impact of providing elderly care. While only 40 percent of caregivers expect they will contribute financially to the care of an elderly family member, the reality is that 83 percent actually do. Research has shown that the entire financial impact of caregiving is significantly greater than anticipated, and most families are woefully unprepared.
A Look at the Family Caregiver’s Expenses
According to the nation’s first in-depth study of the financial impact on family caregivers, the out-of-pocket cost for caring for an aging parent or spouse averages $5,531 a year. This sum is more than double previous estimates, and is greater than the average American household spends each year on health care and entertainment combined. The study also revealed:
• 63 percent of caregivers experience a reduction in income, although only 38 percent expected such a loss.
• Combined with the 37 percent of study participants who aren’t working, 74 percent of caregivers have either had to change their job situation or are not working.
• 49 percent report that their finances have gotten worse since they took on the role of caregiver.
Many caregivers are reducing their hours at work or forfeiting promotions and benefits in order to keep up with their caregiving responsibilities. These lost wages and missed opportunities have far-reaching consequences, such as a smaller retirement fund or inability to finance home maintenance that could raise the value of their home.
A finance study from 1999 revealed that a caregiver has the potential to lose more than $650,000 in wages, Social Security benefits and pensions during the course of their family caregiving “career.”
Easing the Financial Burden for Family Caregivers
Obviously the financial impact of family caregiving is more significant than most people realize. The statistics regarding family economics and caregiving clearly demonstrate the need for a solution. If you are a family caregiver, you may feel as if you have no choice. But the truth is – you do.
Paying for homecare is more affordable than you may think. Countless families are integrating a dependable homecare system into their lives and providing skilled care for their loved ones at a cost significantly less than paying out-of-pocket.
If your elderly parent has an insufficient insurance policy, buy a new one that covers homecare. Check with your state’s Medicaid benefits to see if your parent qualifies for benefits. You may also want to visit with a financial planner to discuss your family’s options.
ClearCare is here for you when you are ready to reach out for help. Innovative technology combined with excellent customer service makes ClearCare the clear choice when searching for the right homecare agency. With ClearCare’s reliable and affordable homecare software, not only will your loved one receive the best care possible, it will ease the economic burden that’s been weighing you down.