By Marlo Sollitto
A survey conducted by AgingCare.com found that although adult children are often responsible for paying for their elderly parent’s care, the large majority of caregivers are vastly unprepared. The survey found:
- 63% of caregivers have no plan as to how they will pay for their parent’s care over the next five years.
- 62% say the cost of caring for a parent has impacted their ability to plan for their own financial future.“With an estimated 34 million Americans providing care for older family members, the survey’s results indicate a financial crisis in the making,” says Joe Buckheit, Publisher of AgingCare.com, a website and online forum for family caregivers.
“Medicare only covers long-term care for a short time, and only under strict rules. Medigap insurance helps, but does not cover all costs. The burden of paying for long-term care often rests with the family,” Buckheit says. “The caregivers’ lack of planning is impacting their own financial future.”
Long-term care costs are not the only expenses caregivers bear. “Family members responsible for ailing loved ones provide not only hands-on care but often reach into their own pockets to pay for many daily expenses, including groceries, household goods, drugs, medical co-payments and transportation,” says Buckheit. “Americans who are already strapped for cash by the rising price of gas and food are unable to afford these additional expenses.” The survey found:
- 34% spend $300 or more per month out of their own pocket for caregiving expenses.
- 54% have sacrificed spending money on themselves to pay for the care of their parents.
Making matters worse, caring for aging parents often impacts adult children at their workplace as well. The survey found:
- 43% have had to take time off work due to caregiving responsibilities.
- 48% say they are earning less money at work as a result of caregiving.
- 25% have been fired or had to quit their job as a result of caregiving.
One survey respondent says, “I am unable to earn the income needed to continue caring for both my parents and my own family. I’ve not only given up my job but my dreams, for now. It is very lonely and financially difficult. But I have to do what is right.”
Physical and Emotional Toll
Despite potentially making less money and dolling out more, more than half of the caregivers surveyed are spending what equates to a full-time work week – 40 hours or more – on caregiving duties, many in addition to their full-time careers outside the home:
- 53% of caregivers provide care 40 or more hours per week.
- 37% provide care more than 80 hours per week.
- 21% say they never get a break from caregiving.
- 36% get a break of 5 hours or less a week.
The survey indicates that today’s caregivers face a triple financial threat: unplanned-for caregiving expenses, less money for their own needs and reduced time in the workplace.