Nearly 62 million Americans already care for another adult at least part-time, an expensive and time-consuming undertaking.
The demand for informal caregivers (such as family members) is expected to increase by more than 20 percent in the next 15 years – and by 85 percent in the next 40 years – as baby boomers age, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Nearly 62 Million Americans already care for another adult at least part time. A recent article from SmartMoney’s Catey Hill, offers advice on the hidden costs of being an informal care giver.
- Caregiving may be taxing to your own health. Caregivers of all ages have a heightened risk for chronic health problems. With so much time and resources dedicated to supporting a loved one, oftentimes too little attention is paid to your own health. One solution is to carve out time to deal with your own health issues, perhaps by enrolling your loved one in a support group, adult day-care, or by hiring a personal aide for a day or two a week.
- Your career might suffer. Again, with the loss of time and the added stress of care giving, you may miss out on opportunities to advance your career. Try to maintain a balance in your work schedule. If you’ve established yourself as a strong performer, consider negotiating flex-time or even work-from-home arrangements with your employer.
- You may have to delay your own retirement. In the past year, 57 percent of caregivers tapped into their own retirement saving to cover the costs of caring for their loved ones. When you add to that the fact that 63 percent of caretakers suffer a reduction or loss of income because of their responsibilities, it’s clear that retirement planning for caretakers can become particularly problematic. Shore up your finances by taking advantage of assistance programs. Some states even allow informal caregivers to get paid for their services through Cash and Counseling programs. Also, look into the possibility of compensation from long-term care insurance program or from your loved one themselves. And, be sure to maximize available care giving tax deductions, including a deduction of up to $3,650 for taking care of a qualifying relative.
- You could be sued – by members of your own family. You may run into family trouble and disagreements about where the money is to come from and who is to pay, as well as about who is to care for the elderly and thereby put their time and direct effort into it. If you anticipate – or experience – these types of problems, it may be best to consult with a qualified elder law attorney to help iron-out specific plans, and communicate those to the entire family.