Understanding the Hidden Costs of Being a Family Caregiver

February 11, 2020

If you are considering moving an aging loved one in with you, here are a few hidden costs of caregiving to consider.

When an older adult in the family begins to experience health issues or has trouble managing their personal care, loved ones often pitch in to help. This sometimes begins by assisting with small tasks, such as picking up a few groceries or completing light housekeeping chores. As the senior’s health declines, the duties often increase.

Providing care can take a significant toll on a caregiver’s physical and emotional well-being. While it might seem less expensive to move a senior in with you, many of the costs associated with caregiving aren’t obvious. Lost wages and increased household expenses are a few, as well as greater wear and tear on the family car.

If you are weighing the pros and cons of keeping an older family member at home versus encouraging a move to an assisted living community, here are some hidden expenses you should not overlook.

Caregiving Costs Not to Overlook

  • Lost wages and career opportunities:

As a senior loved one’s needs increase, family caregivers often cut back on their work hours or give up working entirely for a while. This results in not only lost wages and benefits for their current job but missed opportunities for career advancement. Caregivers who temporarily leave the workforce may also have a tough time finding a new position when their caregiving days are behind them.

  • Higher vehicle costs:

Caregivers find themselves behind the wheel of their car a lot. From trips to the pharmacy to physician appointments, the extra mileage means higher vehicle expenses. The added costs for gas, oil changes, tires, and brakes can quickly add up. If the vehicle is leased, caregiving may cause you to exceed the mileage and incur additional expenses.

  • More household expenses:

When an older loved one becomes a member of your household, it’s highly probable your home expenses will increase. Not only will you face higher utility expenses and greater food costs, but there’s also a good chance some modifications to the house may be necessary. Wider doorways, ramps, and a barrier-free shower are a few examples.

  • More health care bills:

Unfortunately, it’s all too common for caregivers to experience health issues that lead to unplanned medical expenses. Caregiving is physically and emotionally demanding work. Adults who provide care can experience a higher risk for digestive issues, back pain, and headaches than their non-caregiving peers.

One final expense to consider is the cost of a different kind—loss of personal time.

While caregiving can be a labor of love, it is also a 24/7 endeavor. As a result, it comes with the price of a loss of privacy and personal space.

A solution worth considering is a care option known as respite. This short-term service offered by many assisted living communities gives caregivers a break from their duties. It can be ideal for a caregiver who is worn out and weary. The senior can stay at an assisted living community on a temporary basis while the adult child or spouse enjoys a little time to relax and restore their spirit.

Call the Legacy community nearest you to learn how respite care may be the solution you need!