Are you one of the estimated 65 million family caregivers? Are one of the 42.1 million who care for an adult who can no longer do their own activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing, toileting, preparing meals, cleaning or transporting themselves to places they need to go like the doctor?
Does your senior live in your home now? Do you travel everyday to their home?
There are financial costs to being a caregiver. According to the AARP, in 2009 family caregivers spent an estimated $450 billion per year to care for their senior loved ones.
After our recent podcast episode, Preparing for the Cost of Caring for Elder Loved Ones, we received requests for a list of types of costs to aid listeners in their planning. This post is our response to those requests. Please let us know if additional information would be helpful.
Most caregivers average an additional expenditure out of their own pockets of over $200 each week if you provide about 18.4 hours of direct care. Some costs you may experience can be minimal, moderate to extreme. You should be prepared for these costs when you decide to become a caregiver or if you need to ask for help as a current caregiver.
Some Costs You May Face:
- cost of gas to travel to them or taking them to appointments or out for enjoyment plus the cost of auto maintenance
- utilities when an extra person lives in your house–electricity, water, sewer, garbage, heating oil, gas, etc.
- extra food, groceries and health/beauty items costs
- senior’s needs not covered by insurance such as durabe medical equipment like walker, TED hose, raised toilet seat, comfortable shoes and socks and other items
- furniture like a bed, dresser, mattress, tv, radio, sheets and pillows, living room chair, etc.
- dentures, hearing aids, hearing aid batteries, glasses, magnifying glass to read the newspaper and visits to the specialists who provide these items
- medications that are over the counter such as antacids, laxatives, and pain relievers and also the prescription medications not covered by insurance or their co-payments
- body lotions, shampoo and soap for fragile skin, as well as other items such as heating pads
- candy for the always empty candy dish
- birdseed for the feeder at the back porch
- books, magazines, and puzzles to keep your senior busy during the day
- nutrition supplements like vitamins, minerals, milkshakes, protein powder and special food items like pureed food, special snacks, or items needed to feed themselves like two handled mugs or clothing protectors
- laundry supplies for the additional loads of laundry needed each week
- increased power usage of setting the thermostat for the needs of a senior
- more frequent dishwasher use; wear and tear on household appliances and flooring
- long distance or cell phone costs talking with other family or friends on behalf of or by your senior
- cost of lost wages if you have to cut back on work hours or quit your job altogether
- medical co-payments
- cost of caring for your senior’s pet and vet bills
- paying for someone to relieve you (respite) or for additional help caring for your senior’s activities of daily living like showering
- technology assistance such as monitoring devices, alarms, etc.
- paying someone to do what you don’t have time for any more such as yard work or home maintenance
- home modifications such as grab bars, wayfinding lights, nonskid surfaces, ramps and handrails to help your senior stay safe
- legal fees for advance directives, wills, power of attorney, etc.
- recreational costs such as going to movies, museums or dining out to occupy time and entertain your senior
- incontinence supplies
- cigarettes, tobacco products, alcohol for your senior
- cost to your physical and emotional health handling additional burdens
- the cost of a life deferred
We know caregiving is a labor of love and something you will be forever thankful that you were able to do this for your loved one. However, you will rarely get thanked.
Be prepared for the unforeseen burden and care for yourself so you can continue to care for your precious loved one.
If you have any advice for those currently struggling with the financial burden of caregiving, we look forward to hearing from you!