Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Family caregivers spend a huge percent of their income on care costs


By Mary Brophy Marcus CBS News November 14, 2016, 6:41 PM

A huge portion of a caregiver’s salary goes to the needs of their sick family member or loved one, a new study shows.

Family caregivers spend 20 percent of their income — an average of $6,954 — on out-of-pocket costs related to caregiving, according to the AARP Research report.


dings were broken down by racial and ethnic groups, Hispanic/Latino family caregivers spent an average of $9,022, representing 44 percent of their total income per year; African-American family caregivers spent $6,616 (34 percent); white family caregivers spent $6,964 (14 percent); and Asia-Americans/Pacific Islanders spent $2,935 (9 percent).

Not surprisingly, long-distance family caregivers (defined as those who lived more than an hour away) had the highest out-of-pocket costs at $11,923. Caregivers who shared the same home still faced average costs of about $8,616.

Caregivers’ work lives were compromised, too. More than half of employed caregivers (56 percent) reported at least one work-related stressor, such as working different hours, logging fewer or more hours, and taking time off (both paid and unpaid) for caregiving duties.

The costs can be tremendous and may drain a caregiver’s own retirement funds and their children’s college savings, said Beth Kallmyer, vice president of constituent services for the Alzheimer’s Association.


“Alzheimer’s is more expensive than other chronic diseases because the level of care needed is so significant,” she said. “With Alzheimer’s, as the disease progresses, the person eventually needs help with all the activities of living — medications, how to plan for their day, and in the early stages, basic help with initiative. As they move to the middle stages, they need help getting dressed, bathing, shaving, eating and then eventually mobility,” said Kallmyer.

And while it’s different for every patient, many with Alzheimer’s can live a long time — between four and eight years from the time of diagnosis. Some live as long as 20 years.

“Most families are not going to be able to pay for this out of pocket, even in the shorter term, for two years,” Kallmyer said.


Many families need to access Medicaid in order to pay for services, she added. The Alzheimer’s Association has a 24/7 help line to assist caregivers in talking through financial and other issues.

AARP also has more information about resources on its website.

LeaMond said AARP hopes Congress will pass the bipartisan Credit for Caring Act — which provides a federal tax credit of up to $3,000 — in order to “give some sorely needed financial relief to eligible family caregivers.”

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