According to the 2016 Caregiving Journey Survey from Caring.com, 42% of family caregivers spend $5,000 or more per year on caregiving expenses. Do you have a spare $5000 (or more)? No, you probably don't. A recent report said the average person in this country would be devastated by a $400 emergency.
As the person in charge of my mom's care the last three years of her life, I can attest to the facts and figures in this survey. From food and clothes to transportation to parking to medication and medical bills not covered by Medicare and her supplemental insurance, I felt as if I was handing out money daily for things I never had planned for. And because she was an Alzheimer's patient, the cost of assisted living, and ultimately memory care, increased substantially every six months or so. In her last year (2015), we spent over $40,000 out of pocket. Unless you have Long Term Care insurance or qualify for Medicaid, assisted living is not covered.
Now of course you probably have to work for that money. Here's the next revelation - you are going to miss work. You are going to arrive late. You are going to have to leave early. You are going to miss days all together. More likely than not, unless you work for Deloitte who recently announced 16 weeks paid leave for caregivers, your career and bank account will suffer from this missed work. 79% of family caregivers who are working either full or part time missed work over the last year according to the study.
So, what can you do?
- Start saving money now - for you and your loved ones
- Get Long Term Care insurance for yourself
- Check your loved ones benefits such as Social Security and the Veteran's Administration Aid & Assistance
- Check for bank accounts and any investment accounts
- Sell the loved one's home and/or car
- Talk to your employer about your caregiver circumstances
- Have The Talk with family - a list of questions we should all ask and have answers to
Caring for a loved one is financially and emotionally draining. Having a plan ahead of time makes it a little better down the road. Visit Caring.com for more information and free support groups.
Dayna Steele is the Chief Caring Expert for Caring.com. In her "spare" time, Dayna is the host of The Rock Talk Series featuring successful people who also happen to play with some of the most successful rock bands in the world -- including David Bowie, Cheap Trick, and Night Ranger. This rock radio Hall of Famer is also the creator of the 101 Ways To Rock Your World book series. Dayna is a professional on LinkedIn, occasionally snarky on Twitter, and has absolutely no filter on Facebook.