The True Cost of Caregiving  

 

Photo Credit: Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research

A newly released poll findings suggest that caregiving is not for sissies.  Taking care of your loved one can affect your retirement egg nest, become a barrier to getting an education, and increasing your stress levels.  It’s not surprising that millennial caregivers are hit the hardest, says the researchers.

One in three caregivers in the United States put caring for family members and friends ahead of meeting their personal and medical, according to a poll conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, with funding from The SCAN Foundation.

Forty percent of Americans have experience caregiving, with 10 million caregivers between the ages of 18 and 39, says the AP-NORC poll that surveyed long-term caregivers asking them about the specific challenges and costs they face providing care.

Retirement Savings Take a Hit

According to the findings, 25 percent of caregivers have reduced their retirement savings to cover caregiving costs and 41 percent have even dipped into their personal savings to cover caregiving expenses.  Thirty seven percent  decrease their spending on household maintenance or renovations while 30 percent choose not to purchase new close or personal care items.  Twenty five percent spend less on groceries.

The poll results reveal that caring one-quarter of caregivers spend roughly the same amount of time caregiving each week as they would at a full-time job.  For those employed, 45 percent of people who have outside jobs and provide care for others use vacation time for caregiving.

While nearly 6 in 10 caregivers spending more than 10 hours a week providing care, it becomes difficult [especially those who also work] to schedule personal time to be with friends, children, spouses or partners, or other family. About 4 in 10 say they gave up time for sleep, exercise, or hobbies. Roughly 1 in 10 say they had even stopped or delayed their education.

“The strain on America’s caregivers, especially millennial caregivers, robs them of sleep, education, and financial security,” said Bruce Chernof, MD, president and CEO of The SCAN Foundation in a statement. “We need more communication between caregivers and medical providers, and more support for caregivers to care for themselves as they do for others,” says Chernof.

When examining the impact of caregiving across the generations, the poll shows millennial caregivers reported feeling lonelier due to caregiving than their older caregiver counterparts (74 percent versus 46 percent) and coping with the stresses of caregiving through increased eating, sleeping, and shopping. It shows millennial caregivers are more likely to stop or forgo education (21 percent) than older counterparts (9 percent).

Some Additional Poll Findings…

Twenty-four percent of the caregiver respondents see their caregiving role as an essential part of their identity, but 43 percent consider it important, but not essential.  While only 18 percent say it is not too important, and 14 percent say it is not important at all in their personal identity.

Forty-five percent of caregivers have a legal document that allows them to make decisions about medical care if the person they assist can no longer make them, while 46 percent have a HIPAA authorization allowing the person’s health care providers to speak with them.

Caregivers do find ways to cope from the stress of caregiving. More than half of the respondents rely on spirituality or spending time outdoors to cope with caregiving responsibilities, while others engage in unhealthy behaviors like sleeping less and eating more.

The poll surveyed 1,024 Americans age 18 and older with past or current experience caregiving. Nearly half of the sample included current caregivers. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percentage points.

For a copy of “Long-Term Caregiving: The True Costs of Caring for Aging Adults” detailing the poll findings, go to www.longtermcarepoll.org/long-term-caregiving-the-true-costs-of-caring-for-aging-adults/.

 

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