What can I do if a parent or relative needs care?
A discussion of the challenges of caregiving, and resources you can turn to when caring for family members in need.
Will I need to provide caregiving for a parent or relative?
- As life expectancy increases, more and more of us are providing caregiving for aging parents or family members.
- 34 million Americans are providing unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older.
- The average age of a caregiver is 49.
- The average age of a care recipient is 69.
- While 80 percent provide care for one family member or friend, one in five are providing care for more than one person in need.(1)
What are the challenges of being a caregiver?
- Caregivers report holding significant decision-making authority, including monitoring of the care recipient’s condition and adjusting care (66%), communicating with healthcare professionals on behalf of the care recipient (63%), and acting as an advocate for the care recipient with care providers (50%).
- On average, family caregivers spend almost 25 hours a week providing care.
- Caregiving can also be a long-term commitment. The average duration of a caregiver’s role is four years, but 15% of caregivers provide care for ten or more years.
- In addition to time, caregivers also often contribute financially. Family caregivers spend an average of almost $7,000 annually out of their own pockets on caregiving costs, including household expenses and medical costs.(2)
What resources can i turn to as a caregiver?
- Professional care coordinator. A care coordinator can help you navigate the health care system and manage your loved one’s care. Often, professional care coordinators are registered nurses. Care coordinators can help you learn about your love one’s condition, navigate insurance coverage, facilitate good communication among care providers, and ensure you are getting the possible care.
- Paid home care services. Home care providers can offer part-term care and assistance with personal care (such as bathing or dressing), household care, preparing meals, and transportation. Home care may be covered by some long-term care insurance policies.
- Institutional care, such as assisted living or nursing home care. There are now a growing number of options for institutional care to meet a variety of needs and priorities. Assisted living communities often offer activities and social events to enhance the health, well-being, and enjoyment of their residents. Continuing care retirement communities offer different levels of service on one campus, ranging from independent living to assisted living to higher levels of care.
- Elder law attorney. Elder law attorneys handle financial and estate planning issues related to health care needs, health care power of attorney, patient rights, trusts and estates, guardianship, insurance, and benefits.
- Community resources, such as adult day care programs, meals programs, and respite care. Respite programs provide breaks for caregivers by offering temporary in-home or community care.
- Workplace assistance programs. Your employer may offer help, advice, and counseling for the stresses and responsibilities of caregiving.
- Other family members or friends. When caregiving becomes overwhelming, family members and friends can be an indispensable source of help and emotional support.
I would like to learn more about...
Exploring caregiving resources and options in my community
Preparing for potential direct and indirect costs of caregiving
Preparing important documents for family members who need caregiving
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1. National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. (2015). Caregiving in the U.S.
2. AARP, caregiver.org
This publication is designed to provide general information and is for discussion purposes only. The effectiveness of any strategy is dependent upon each individual’s facts and circumstances. This article does not provide legal, tax or account advice. Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error, the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information is not guaranteed.