No one wants to think about their parents aging, but it happens to everyone. Almost 10 million adult children in the United States provide care for their aging parents. In fact, this unpaid care is estimated to be worth around $375 billion dollars!
Of course you want to take on the unpaid task of caring for your parents, but for some people the cost is a big issue. Most people think that caring for aging parents themselves costs less than paying for professional help or care, but this often isn’t the case.
If you’re facing caring for an aging parent, it’s important to understand the financial part of the commitment. Here are 5 hidden costs of family caregiving you might have otherwise overlooked:
- Lost Wages – People that care for their family often have to leave their jobs for emergencies, doctors appointments or other important reasons, causing them to reduce their hours and, consequently, their pay. In fact, a recent poll found that the majority of family caregivers believe that their family care has had a negative impact in their career. A similar study discovered that the average family caregiver loses round $143,000 in wages.
- Lowered Employability – Similar to the lost wages, a lot of family caregivers find that it’s harder to get or keep a job. Also, a lot of caregivers who left the workforce to focus on their family find it extremely difficult to get a job when their caregiving ends, leading to even more lost wages.
- Decreased Retirement Funds and Savings – Providing care for an aging parent can get expensive. A recent study discovered that 47% of caregivers had to use some or even all of their savings to cover the costs of care, leaving little to no money leftover for their own retirement and aging process.
- More Health Care Costs – Caring for an aging loved one is hard on your body and your mind, so much so that experts have found caregivers have poorer emotional and physical health than non-caregivers. This decreased health means higher healthcare costs on top of the cost of providing care.
- Lowered Productivity For Everyone – The negative costs of caregiving don’t just affect the caregiver and the family. The overall American economy loses an estimated $34 billion each year because of employee’s taking time off or working less to care for aging family members.
You can’t stop giving care to your aging parent because of these costs, so what do you do?
Luckily, there are some steps you can take to avoid or reduce these costs like:
- Work with your employer to come up with family-friendly work practices, like working from home
- Investigate caregiving tax credits
- Support national laws like the Family Medical Leave Act and the National Family Caregiver program
- Check out other ways to pay family caregivers like Medicaid and more
Has caregiving had an impact on your life and family? Did you experience unexpected costs? Comment below to tell your story.
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