Many people believe that providing care for an older loved one is cheaper than assisted living or nursing home care, but this is not necessarily the case. There are hidden costs to caring for a family member in the home that many don’t think about, and those costs may in fact be more financially damaging than an assisted living or other professional care environment.
A report by Indiana University found that the unpaid care that the almost 10 million adult children provide their parents is worth approximately $375 billion dollars per year. Many take on this responsibility out of love or a sense of duty; after all, these people took care of them when they were younger, and now it is the child’s turn to take care of the parent. This line of thinking is, of course, quite commendable, but it is not always the best option for either party. Professional caretakers have the expertise to handle situations that family members may not, and if the decision is made in part out of the assumption that home care will be less expensive, these five hidden costs should be considered:
- Lost wages. Family caregivers lose an estimated $143,000 in wages due to having to reduce their hours, leave their jobs entirely, or retire early in order to care for their loved one.
- Decreased employability. Once their time as a caregiver is done, many find it difficult to find a job after having been out of the workforce for an extended period of time.
- Increased healthcare costs. This cost is often increased in two ways. Obviously, there is an increase in healthcare costs for the person being cared for. However, being a caregiver is very physically and mentally taxing, and research has shown that those who are caregivers often experience a decline in their own health as well. Therefore, there are increased healthcare costs for both the caregiver and the care receiver.
- Lost savings/retirement. Out-of-pocket expenditures tend to add up and sneak up on family caregivers. This is often because caregivers tend to underestimate how long they will be providing care. A startling study by the National Alliance for Caregiving and Evercare found that 47% of working caregivers reported having used up most or all of their savings, and those who had to leave their jobs entirely to become a caregiver were in even worse shape.
- Reduced productivity. The costs are not just to the individual caregivers; they are also to the economy as a whole. A study my MetLife estimated that businesses lose about $34 billion per year due to employees becoming caregivers.
Decisions about what to do when a senior loved one can no longer live independently are difficult and personal, and must be carefully considered. Hopefully this information can help in that decision.
For more information or to ask about our services, contact Unlimited Care Cottages today!