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5 Hidden Costs of Family Caregiving

Many families choose to step in and help care for a loved one who can no longer live independently, often without realizing the many hidden costs. The cost of informal caregiving for senior family members in the U.S. is estimated at $522 million a year, which assumes the work is performed at minimum wage.

If you are planning to help care for an aging loved one, make sure you are prepared for the hidden costs, both financial and emotional, and weigh them against the benefits of a professional Albuquerque home care provider.

1. Lost income
Three out of five family caregivers are also working at a job, and many are forced to sacrifice income by reducing their hours or calling off sick to balance their caregiving requirements at home. According to a MetLife report, the average family caregiver is a middle-aged mother with children still living at home. Dropping out of the work force due to caregiving responsibilities averages out to $143,000 in lost wages over five years.

2. Reduced pension and Social Security benefits
Because so many Albuquerque caregivers are forced to cut back on their hours or drop out of the job force completely, many are putting themselves in a more precarious situation when they themselves are ready to retire. The lost Social Security and pension benefits can be significant. Because out-of-pocket costs begin to add up, 47% of working family caregivers use up their savings while caring for a loved one.

3. Difficultly finding work
Caregivers who need to leave the workforce for months or even years have more trouble finding a job when their role as a caregiver comes to an end. This is especially true as unemployment remains high, leading to an exceedingly competitive market.

4. Emotional stress
As difficult as finances can become, many caregivers report suffering from extreme emotional stress that actually trumps money problems. Family caregivers must be prepared not only for the expenses of caregiving but the strain it will put on family life, marriage, work, and all other areas of their life.

5. Declining health
One of the greatest surprises to many caregivers is the toll the job takes on their own health. Caregiving is mentally and emotionally taxing, and Gallup research has found that caregivers have worse emotional and physical health than non-caregivers. In fact, more than 10% of caregivers say their role has caused their own health to decline.

While being a family caregiver is a labor of love, it’s important to weigh the real costs of taking on a role with such great responsibilities. It’s also important to know you don’t have to do it alone—Home Care Assistance can help. Our live-in or part-time home care services can provide you with the respite you need to regroup, recharge, or even work. To learn more about our customized care plans, call 505-798-0800 and schedule a complimentary in-home consultation with a trusted Care Manager.