According to a study, U.S. caregivers lose an estimated $3 trillion dollars in salary and benefits when they care for their loved ones.
The 2011 MetLife Study of Caregiving, ʺCosts to Working Caregivers: Double Jeopardy for Baby Boomers Caring for Their Parents", states over a lifetime, "women caregivers lose on average $324,044 and men lose more than $283,716 and the percentage of caregivers has more than tripled in 14 years."
The Center for Long Term Care Research and Policy at New York Medical College and the National Alliance for Caregiving partnered with MetLife Mature Market Institute to conduct the study.
As a result of the study, the experts put together a financial tip sheet and recommendations for caregivers. Here is their advice:
• Consider taking a family medical leave or see if your company offers flex-time. Sometimes employers will allow split-time and allow you to work 2-3 days per week. Check with your company’s human resource department to see if you can work out a flexible schedule while being a caregiver.
• Caregivers should not quit their jobs while they are caring for loved ones. Not only will leaving your position reduce your lifetime income, it will also reduce your Social Security benefits and pension.
• Develop a caregiving budget. Write down all caregiving expenses from gasoline, prescriptions, home care, etc. Chart and document a daily, weekly and monthly budget after you incorporate all of the expenses. Evaluate the costs of the homecare option versus senior living facilities or a nursing home.
• Visit www.BenefitsCheckup.org. This website offers a plethora of no-cost and low-cost services which may be available to you and your loved one. Here, you will find more than 1,800 federal, state and local programs to help with food, housing, utilities and prescriptions. Also, look into meals-on-wheels to reduce food costs. Another source for food is http://www.angelfoodministries.com/. Angel Food offers low-cost boxes of high quality food. There are even healthy pre-made meals for seniors.
• Become a Medicaid and Medicare expert. For example, Medicare has a deductible. So, you don’t suffer bill shock, understand and know your loved one’s deductibles. Also, some loved one’s may qualify for Medicaid.
• You may be eligible for a ʺDependent Care Credit.ʺ You can contact the IRS at (800) 829.3676 or you can review the following document to see if you qualify for credit: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p503.pdf. Please note, many times the laws change each year. So, it is in your best interest to review the qualifications each year.
For the full list of financial recommendations and resources, you can go to http://www.metlife.com/assets/cao/mmi/publications/studies/2011/Tips/mmi-planning-tips-financial-considerations-family-caregivers.pdf
Reviewed July 18, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Shannon Koehle