Have you ever stopped to think about the cost of caregiving? What does it really cost us, financially, as family caregivers to be responsible for the proper care of our loved ones…and to be responsible for a lifetime? Have you ever taken the time to add up the costs? Can you afford it or are you in the red?
The Cost of Caregiving in the Household
There’s a Jamaican saying, “Every mickle mek a muckle”, which basically means “it all adds up eventually”, and when it comes to the dollars and cents we spend as caregivers, this saying rings true. Approximately 8 out of 10 family caregivers report having routine out-of-pocket expenses related to looking after their loved ones. According to a study done, it is estimated that family caregivers, on average, spend 26% of their income on caregiving activities such as rent and utilities, home modifications related to safety, insurance costs, drug prescriptions, toiletries, transportation, groceries, home care, etc., which adds up to a grand total of over US$7,000 annually.
The Cost of Caregiving in the Workplace
Family caregivers are placed in the difficult position of choosing employment or caregiving, which usually is a result of things like inflexible paid time-off policies and insensitive supervisors. Have you ever had the displeasure of requesting time off due to your loved one being ill, and your supervisor has the audacity to tell you that it is not their fault your loved one has a disability and therefore they are not responsible for giving you time off for what they did not cause? N.B. The supervisor was not that diplomatic with their choice of words.
Many family caregivers are under extreme stress, having to juggle both their jobs and caregiving. In many instances, caregiving cuts into the caregivers’ income because we are more likely than our co-workers to take time off (unplanned absenteeism) due to unreliable or limited affordable access to professional care for our loved ones. According to another study done, approximately one-third of the caregivers reported two or more work-related strains, such as having to change their schedule or take leave, which leads to an average annual loss of household earnings totaling over US$10,000.
For some caregivers, they make the decision to leave the workforce altogether. One survey finds that more than 30 percent of employees who are caregivers report leaving a job because of their caregiving responsibilities. Family caregivers that drop out of the workforce do not accrue retirement, and re-entry is often at a lower wage.
The True Cost of Caregiving
Approximately half of family caregivers state that they have experienced financial setbacks, which leads to them cutting back on retirement contributions, reducing spending on every-day activities, tapping into emergency savings or retirement funds, delaying major life purchases, and even racking up significant credit card debt.
It is reported that women who are family caregivers are two-and-a-half times more likely than non-caregivers to live in poverty, therefore the cost of caregiving is all too real and must be addressed seriously.
The truth is many caregivers are financially burdened with many feeling hopeless. Therefore, it’s time we really take a hard look at our finances.
- Is it time to learn about managing your money?
- Is it time to get out of debt?
- Do you want to work a regular 9-to-5 forever or can you make use of the new opportunities that technology has opened up?
- Do you want to learn how to make money online?
- Can your loved one have their own business?
- Can you have your own business?
- Is it time to seriously create a plan for your finances and the finances of your loved one?
Many family caregivers often forget about how much it can cost them financially to provide proper long-term care for their loved ones. It is important to know what you realistically need to be prepared for all your responsibilities and know where the needed funds will come from. So, start today. Plan financially for your future and the future of your loved one.