The Family Cost of Caregiving

Family Caregiving September 23, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF

When caregiving demands intensify, caregivers take leaves of absence, reduce their work hours or quit their jobs. These decisions take a heavy toll financially.

One study states that a caregiver can lose more than $650,000 in wages, Social Security benefits and pensions during the course of a family caregiving “career.” Another recent study found that besides the personal income and benefits caregivers lose, almost half the families of terminally ill patients found the cost of medical care for these patients to be a moderate or great economic hardship.

Family caregivers have other losses beyond financial ones, including the loss of health and well-being. Caregiving takes a heavy emotional toll. Caregivers report chronic stress, family conflicts, and failure to meet their own personal and emotional needs. They also often report feeling alone and isolated. Caregiver stress can lead to depression, burnout, self-neglect, excessive use of drugs or alcohol, and even neglect or abuse of the care recipient. Of the caregivers who provide more than 21 hours of care a week–intensive caregiving–around 61% suffer from depression.

Yet often caregivers do not access the community resources and supports meant to help them take care of themselves and assist with caregiving tasks. Caregivers are often unaware of such community resources. Some maintain they can manage on their own and feel uncomfortable with outsiders coming into their home. Caregivers often become ill, incapacitated or die because they attend to caregiving responsibilities rather than taking care of themselves. Without the family caregiver, the care recipient may need to be institutionalized prematurely.

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Family Caregiving is Everyone's Business

Am I a Caregiver?

Other Family Caregivers

Family Caregiving Is Important

Future Caregivers

The Cost of Caregiving

The Family Cost of Caregiving

Where Older Adults and Their Caregivers Live

Dementia Caregivers

Support for Caregivers

Caregiver Resources

Reference List and Downloads

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.