October 11, 2011
The economic downturn has had widespread effects on family caregivers, many of whom have had to dip into their savings to cover increases in expenses. Caregivers also are often finding it difficult to pay for their own basic necessities. Respite care can help family caregivers get back to work.
Q: I am a full-time caregiver to my 85-year-old parents, and the recession has hit me hard. I have to work another part-time job just to make ends meet. Am I alone?
You’re far from alone. According to a study, “Survey of the Economic Downturn and Its Impact on Family Caregiving,” the economic downturn has affected family caregivers in a number of ways.
Forty-three percent of those caregivers surveyed have taken pay cuts or worked fewer hours because of the state of the economy; and nearly half of these survey participants have used up most or all of their savings covering increases in caregiving-related expenses.
Fifty percent of working caregivers said they were less comfortable taking time off from work to provide care. And one in six (15 percent) said the downturn caused them to lose his or her job or be laid off. Six of 10 caregivers who reported increasing their caregiving spending also reported having difficulty paying for their own basic necessities. Sixty-three percent are saving less for retirement.
Forty-three percent are borrowing money or increasing their credit card debt as a result of the economic downturn. Those caregivers providing more intense personal care seem to be at greater financial risk. Half of the caregivers reported the economic downturn has increased their stress about being able to continue caring for their loved one.
Another study, “Caregiving in the U.S. 2009,” compared findings from three surveys spread over a 12-year period and revealed that caregiving is still mostly a woman’s job. Many women are putting their career and financial futures on hold as they juggle part-time caregiving and full-time job requirements.
While caregivers and care recipients continue to be predominately female (66 percent), they are about three years older now than those surveyed five years early in the study. The average age of today’s caregiver is 49, and the average age of today’s care recipient is 69.
In total, 29 percent of the U.S. adult population, or 65.7 million people, are caregivers, including 31 percent of all households.
Here is some good news, however. Seventy-six percent of caregivers indicate that the quality of care their loved one receives has not decreased.
Statistics tell the story of family caregivers who are sacrificing much to ensure that their older loved ones are well cared for. But stress and fatigue can take a terrible toll on the family caregiver. That’s why you need to take care of yourself first. Try to enlist the help of other family members.
Also consider professional respite care, which can help you focus on your career. CAREGiversSM from your local Home Instead Senior Care® office can provide flexible care for just a few hours a week. Having that additional support could make all the difference to your health and well-being, and allow you to work more.
Get helpful tips and articles like these delivered to your email.