Beyond Dollars: The Expanding Circle of Care

There was a great study done recently by Genworth Financial that highlights not just the financial, but the physical and emotional demands of a long term care event on the caregiver. While needing help with daily tasks can be difficult to accept as the care recipient, it can be equally challenging for the person providing the care. Providing care for a friend or loved one can often times be more difficult than many expect. For example, a parent may respond differently to taking directions from a child than from a professional.

While caregivers used to be predominately women, this study reveals that caregivers are now more evenly split between men and women and 52% are the adult child of the care recipient. The age and reasons for needing care have drastically changed in the last 5 years as well: today, 40% of care recipients are under the age of 65, compared to 19% of the recipients in 2010. The lower age for care can likely be attributed to the fact that today, a larger percentage of care recipients are needing care due to accidents as opposed to illnesses. This shows that the risk of needing care is not just limited to aging and getting sick.

The process of being a caregiver can have negative effects emotionally and financially, and can impact health, so it is important to think about who you’d like providing your care and how that will impact their life. 43% of caregivers surveyed said they felt there was a negative impact on their health and well-being and 62% of caregivers used their own savings and retirement funds. On average, caregivers spend 20 hours a week providing care to a loved one, which if they work full time, is almost half the time they would typically spend at work. This can greatly affect their income, promotions and new job opportunities in addition to the physical and emotional drain.

Having a plan for a long term care event can alleviate some of the stress and negative impacts on not only the care recipient, but the caregiver. If expectations are set early, you can prepare for any situation, and by having options available (additional caregivers, alternate sources of funding, etc) it will save time, money, pain and provide peace of mind.