Understanding the Hidden Costs for Caregivers

Author: Dave Schmidt

Woman looking at paperwork

Caregivers are a special breed. They are driven by love and a sense of responsibility. It quickly becomes apparent that a lot of cost can go into being a caregiver and many people assume it’s much less expensive to be a caregiver than to utilize outside professional help. While senior care facilities have their own upsides, they are not always more expensive.

It is vitally important that if you are planning on becoming a fulltime caregiver to your aging parents, you understand the costs and all that goes into it. Understanding these aspects will help everyone in your circle of friends and family share in the commitment that goes with caregiving and have a deeper appreciation for the sacrifice involved. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at all these issues.

A Few Hidden Costs of Being a Caregiver:

Lost Income

In order to take on a full-time caregiving role, it will involve giving up a current job or career. This can mean a big loss of wages, the need to retire early and other impacts to the household income. Many polls suggest that the vast majority of people who take on the role of caregiving have had a negative impact on their careers.

Not Being as Employable

If a person becomes a caregiver for several years and then tries to re-enter the workforce, they often find it quite difficult. This is an especially frustrating problem when you consider how competitive it is to get a job due to high unemployment. This can lead to even higher unemployment as people who were caregivers feel lost.

Rising Cost of Health Care

It’s no secret that being a caregiver is stressful. It’s a proven fact that there are emotional and physical impacts that affect caregivers. Their own health is at risk and this means overall increased cost of living as they struggle to cover the cost of health care. This is especially tough when you consider that many people give up their health insurance coverage when they step down from their outside careers.

Retirement and Savings Lost

The truth of the matter is that caregivers take on a lot of personal expense. Recent studies report that nearly half of all caregivers have burned through savings and/or retirement. If they have walked away from their career for good, it’s quite possible they will never recoup these losses. Social Security benefits can also be lowered by leaving the workforce.
Lack of Productivity

Here’s a fact you might not think about: Businesses in America take a hit of $34 billion dollars every year from employees leaving to be caretakers for their senior loved ones. This sheds light on the fact that the costs of caregiving are not just with the person giving the care. It affects everyone in the bigger picture.

So, Where Do All These Costs Come From?

Caregiving can be costly for many reasons, not the least of which is the time spent giving the care. What many think will just be a few hours here and there turns into way more than they bargained for. There is often an expectation that it will be a short-term solution and it can end up being several years. This obviously can have a huge impact on your finances and can even wipe you out if you don’t plan well.

So How Do We Move Forward?

Here are some recommendations from the AARP to policy makers on planning for long-term costs of caregiving:

  • Allow for workplace policies that are more family-friendly, including the option to work from home.
  • Defend and protect the Family Medical Leave Act and have it in place.
  • Offer tax credits for caregivers
  • Increase funding for the National Family Caregiving Program
  • Offer caregivers an income through publicly funded programs such as Medicaid.

The costs of caregiving can be staggering and there are no easy answers. It’s vital for everyone involved that we have the necessary dialogue to discover solutions, especially in this time when millions of aging Baby Boomers need our help and support!

If you need help providing care for your loved one, call us or visit our website to see how affordable in-home care assistance can be.

Home Helpers of Lake Country is a locally-owned, trusted home health care agency and offers quality, compassionate senior in-home care services including home care assistance, personal care, companion care, respite care, Alzheimer's & dementia care as well as homemaker services in Oconomowoc, Dousman, Beaver Dam, Hartland, Summit, Okauchee, Watertown, Delafield, Wales, Chenequa, Johnson Creek, Lake Mills, Juneau, Ixonia, Nashotah, and Concord.



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