How to Figure the Cost of Caring for an Aging Relative
The number of adults caring for someone with a serious health problem is on the rise and is likely to continue growing as the population ages. When assuming the care of a relative, family members are putting their own finances and even health at risk.
Those who care for an older family member are more likely to report poor health themselves and to shortchange their own financial future, according to studies from the National Alliance for Caregiving and Met Life Mature Market Institute.
Often the care begins when the family members starts to take time away from work to make doctors calls, check on Mom or Dad, leave work early to take him/ her to a doctor’s appointment or stop at the pharmacy The worker is not focused on work because they really are focused on what is going on with their loved one at home.
The relentless demands can drive the care giver to leave their job, at least temporarily. Doing so has financial repercussions beyond the short-term loss of wages. The Family and Medical Leave Act, which requires certain types of employers to grant personal leave, does not apply to all workers. The leave is unpaid.
A caregiver who leaves the work force will lose, on average, more than $324,000 in wages, Social Security, and pension benefits over a lifetime according to a 2011 study by Met Life and the National Caregiver Alliance.
Patricia, a health care consultant, is caring for her 83 year old mother. Patricia became a consultant to give herself more flexibility to deal with her mother’s needs.
Patricia’s father died from dementia after spending most of the couple’s financial resources. Her mother had left her nursing position early to care for her husband. Now Patricia and her husband are paying for the mother’s rent.
Patricia estimates that over the last decade she and her husband have spent $250,000 to provide for her mother. This is money that they did not save for their retirement. She is concerned what impact this will have on their retirement and on their children’s lives.