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The Stress and Cost of Caring For Aging Family Members

A well-versed Denver nursing home attorney knows that many individuals are either caregivers or they know someone who is a caregiver for an aging family member.  A study entitled, “Caregiving in the U.S.,” which was undertaken at the request of the National Alliance for Caregiving in collaboration with AARP, found that 29 percent of the country’s adult population — some 65.7 million people — are caregivers. This equates to approximately one-third of all households.  Additionally, two out of three caregivers are women. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the typical caregiver is, in fact, a woman, approximately 46 years of age with some college experience, who provides more than 20 hours of care per week.  The CDC estimates that unpaid caregivers provide 90 percent of long-term care for aging family members and the majority of caregivers (83 percent) are family members.

The Cost of Caregiving

Anyone who is a caregiver knows the costs of caring for an aging loved one can be extensive.  Your Denver nursing home attorney is well aware of the fact that there are direct costs, particularly for those who need to hire outside help, pay for medications, procure prescribed physical or occupational therapy for their loved one and purchase necessary equipment, such as a hospital bed, wheelchair, walker, etc., that insurance may not cover at all or cover fully. 

There are also indirect costs, such as lost earning potential.  According to the CDC, approximately 37 percent of caregivers for someone age 50 and older reduced their work hours or quit their job in 2007.  Absenteeism from work due to caregiving results in losses of more than $33 billion to employers and more than $3 trillion to caregivers — an average of $300,000 in total earnings, retirement and Social Security benefits. 

The reasons for the huge impact of caregiving on employment vary, but caregivers often cite a lack of supervisory support for elder care.  Unfortunately, some employers are not as flexible with respect to elder care issues as they are with childcare; therefore there is less motivation for employers to accommodate the need.  In addition, caring for aging family members can be even more unpredictable than caring for children and quality care is less available.  For instance, when the aide for your elderly parent fails to show up, you cannot drop your parent off at daycare.

Resources for Caregivers

Caregiving for aging family members is not only financially stressful, but it can be physically and emotionally taxing as well.  The famous “sandwich generation” that is caught between caring for children and aging parents simultaneously feel particularly overwhelmed.  A lack of time, energy and money can put a strain on the entire family. 

Nevertheless, you can avoid letting caregiving responsibilities negatively affect your family relationships, career, and health by taking part in outings with your spouse and/or friends, attending counseling sessions and/or caregiver courses at your local senior center, participating in support groups and seeking outside help instead of allowing yourself to be overwhelmed. Taking care of yourself is just as important as caring for your loved one.

If you are currently a caregiver or may become one soon, and would like more information on how to balance caregiving with employment and family and access resources to help with both the cost and stress of caregiving, contact Jordan Levine of the Levine Law Firm today.

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