Many people decide to care for a loved one themselves in order to save money, and are then surprised by the total cost of caregiving.
According to AARP, the average unpaid family caregiver spends more than $7,200 annually on caregiving. Families caring for veterans spend even more with an average of $11,500 a year. An Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) survey found that both workers and retirees who provide caregiving spent $5,000 to $14,999 over the previous 12 months.
So where does the money go?
Direct Cost of Caregiving
The direct costs of caregiving can be broken down into the categories that follow.
Home Safety Items
Although items are sometimes covered by Medicare or insurance, caregivers often find themselves using their own money to pay for items like stair lifts, grab bars, phones, and alert systems to keep their loved ones safe.
Medical equipment such as walkers, wheelchairs, toilet seats, shower stools, latex gloves, and specialty beds or chairs are also often covered by insurance, but are sometimes paid for out of a caregiver’s pocket.
Jennifer, who cares for an adult child with severe, chronic health needs estimates that she spends an average of $10,000 annually on out-of-pocket, out-of-network specialists, durable medical supplies, prescriptions, and other medical-related expenses.
Stephanie was able to save money by buying second-hand equipment. She believes she has spent $2,000 over three years on medical equipment for an in-law’s care.
Providing food for a loved one can be expensive. In addition to groceries, there may be costs such as grocery or meal delivery services, and even an increased cost for cleaning supplies. In addition to providing food for a loved one, caregivers may find themselves pressed for time and spend more money having groceries delivered or eating carry out.
Many cars are not suitable for people in wheelchairs or with mobility issues. This can result in the need for a new vehicle or transportation services.
Petia spent $10,000 on a wheelchair accessible van for her late father-in-law. Even providing gas to take loved ones to appointments or run their errands can be expensive.
No one can take care of everything themselves. While home health aides are often covered under insurance, caregivers may find themselves needing to hire additional help, such as dog walkers, house cleaners or lawn care.
Deb, whose mother lives in North Carolina, currently pays $90 a month for lawncare and $250 a month for housekeeping for her mother’s home.
Indirect Cost of Caregiving
In addition to the direct costs of caregiving, there are many indirect costs caregivers incur.
Many caregivers experience higher levels of stress that affect both their physical and mental health. This stress can lead to an increase in doctor’s appointments, therapy appointments, and medical needs of their own. Caregiving can also cause people to put off regular medical appointments, which can leave routine issues untreated and lead to greater risks and costs down the road.
Career and Salary
Caregivers often need more flexible work schedules, which can lead to them choosing lower paying jobs or missing out on promotions. This can be especially difficult for caregivers who are still in their peak earning years. Caregivers also often use up vacation days and need to take unpaid time off or leaves of absence. A reduction in salary not only costs caregivers now, but can affect retirement accounts as well.
Alice, an occupational therapist, estimates that she’s given up thousands of dollars in potential income by providing hours of unpaid caregiving for family members.
How Homethrive Can Help with Caregiving Costs
Homethrive can help reduce the direct and indirect costs of caregiving by connecting caregivers with cost-effective product and service recommendations, government and community-based assistance programs, and Medicare experts to help navigate Medicare insurance and Veterans benefits. In addition, we save caregivers precious time and energy that they can use to focus on their family, their job, and themselves. We believe caregivers shouldn’t have to choose between their mental, physical and financial wellbeing by caring for a loved one. If you want to learn more about how we can support your employees, contact our team for a brief introduction to Homethrive.
Find out more ways to support your caregiving employees by learning about the benefits that can help.
To receive caregiving benefit insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our weekly newsletter.