Study Finds Higher Costs for Caregivers of Elderly
According to a new study published in the New York Times, the out-of-pocket cost of caring for an aging parent or spouse averages about $5,500 a year, according to the nation’s first in-depth study of such expenses, a sum that is more than double previous estimates and more than the average American household spends annually on health care and entertainment combined.
Family members responsible for ailing loved ones provide not only “hands on” care but often reach into their own pockets to pay for many other expenses of care recipients, including groceries, household goods, drugs, medical co-payments and transportation. That nudges the average cost of providing long-distance care to $8,728 a year.
These caregivers, spending on average 10 percent of their household income, manage the financial burden by taking out loans, skipping vacations, dipping into savings or ignoring their own health care.
These findings and others, to be released today, came from a telephone survey of 1,000 adults caring for someone over age 50 who needs help with activities like bathing, using the toilet, preparing meals, shopping or managing finances. It is the first detailed look at out-of-pocket spending among the estimated 34 million Americans providing care for older family members or friends and builds on a 2004 study.
The survey was conducted by the National Alliance for Caregiving, a research and policy organization, and Evercare, a division of the UnitedHealth Group, which coordinates long-term care for 150,000 clients. The report urges government assistance for family caregivers, whether through tax deductions, tax credits or other stipends.