If you are taking responsibility for helping an aging relative get through the day, you may be shouldering a larger burden than you realize. Many caregivers don’t stop to consider the personal, financial and emotional costs of caregiving. New research is bringing those costs to light.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 44 million Americans provide unpaid care for a parent or other adult. These caregivers report higher levels of stress, depression, heart disease and diabetes than the population at large. They are also at higher risk for catching the flu or a cold.
Caregiving also takes a toll on the workplace. Fifty-seven percent of caretakers work outside the home and studies show a majority of those workers take at least some time off with many reducing hours at work or having to quit work altogether in order to provide care for a loved one. One study estimated that working caregivers lose a lifetime average of $303,880 in lost wages, benefits and retirement contributions.
Other studies show that what matters most to caregivers is lost time. Time spent providing care is often time that can’t be spent with your spouse or children, with friends, volunteering, attending church or relaxing.
If the hidden costs of caregiving are taking a toll on you and your family, you may reach a point when you should seek additional caregiver assistance. Remember there are many options available, ranging from in-home care to retirement and independent living, to assisted living, to skilled nursing homes.
The earlier you begin to explore your options the easier it is to understand your choices and make the best-informed decisions. As you explore housing options, think about your loved one’s current and future needs. Is your parent healthy, or managing a chronic condition that could require special care?
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