65.7 million people provide unpaid care for an aging loved one on a routine basis. Almost one-third of family caregivers provide help for two people, typically elderly parents. From loss of wages to stress-related illnesses and exhaustion, caregiving takes a heavy toll. And it’s not easy for those receiving care either. They fear being a burden to their loved ones and are often reluctant to ask for the help they need. Knowing the facts about the overwhelming physical, emotional and financial cost of caregiving can make it easier to consider senior living options outside the family home.
The Impact of Caring for a Loved One
In The 21st Century Caregiving Challenge, researchers found that family members had unrealistic expectations about how much time they would spend caregiving and how long it would last. They found the impact was “significantly greater than people expected.”
Here are some of the challenges the family caregiver faces:
- Time management: Competing demands for the family caregiver’s time are emotionally and physically exhausting. In addition to working outside the home at least part-time, caregivers have families of their own. According to the Pew Research Center, just over 1 in 8 Americans between 40 and 60 is both raising a child and caring for a parent.
- Loss of work time and career opportunities: Because many tasks a senior needs help with — transportation to multiple doctor appointments, the bank or the post office — often need to occur during the workday, the family caregiver must take time off work. The loss of career advancement opportunities and income adds up. Over time, researchers put the lost wages and benefits for a female caregiver at $324,044.
- Financial costs of caregiving: Family caregivers find their out-of-pocket expenses usually turn out to be higher than they planned. Food, gas, travel, medications and transportation cause them to dip into their own savings and retirement plans. When the caregiver lives near their loved one, they spend an average of $5,500 a year on caregiving-related expenses. If they live further away, it’s an average of $8,700 a year.
- Physical and emotional issues of caregiving: Stress, sadness, anger, frustration, exhaustion and impaired physical well-being are the daily reality for family caregivers. According to The American Psychological Association, adults who care for multiple generations at once have weaker immune systems, more frequent headaches, and greater numbers of back problems than non-caregiving peers. They also experience more depression and anxiety-related disorders.
Learn More About Senior Care
If these challenges sound familiar, help is out there. Learn more about how Koelsch Communities has provided the finest Assisted Living or Memory Care for 60+ years.