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68% of family caregivers help to pay for care expenses, says Merrill Lynch study

By Peter DiMaria

Elderly Home Care - Costs for Family Caregivers

Although 92% of caregivers are involved in managing their loved one’s finances, they have difficulty locating important documents, do not have legal authorization to manage their assets and don’t even know bank accounts numbers and passwords. Most impressive: 68% of the caregivers contribute with out-of-pocket, care related expenses in a total of $ 190 billion nationwide.

These are a few of the findings of the recently published study “The Journey of Caregiving: Honor, Responsibility and Financial Complexity”, conducted by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave.

According to the report, “money may not be the first thing that comes to mind when we think about what family caregivers do”. It is actually a much-avoided topic, one that people do not feel comfortable to talk about even within their families. It is impressive, for example, that only 17% of caregivers mentioned receiving financial help from a sibling or another relative.

The survey included a total of more than 2,200 respondents, including 2,010 caregivers and 230 non-caregivers. Professional caregivers were excluded. Additional data was gathered from other existing studies and demographic information, establishing a comprehensive X-ray of the financial role of family caregivers and the impact this role has in their lives.

Need for Home Care and Respite Care

A few other observations from the study show the huge need for Respite Care, which is the care provided when the family caregiver is going through difficulties managing their own time. That often leads to stress and burnout. One-third of the respondents said they would need respite care, but they don't get any.

At Home Helpers, we have daily contact with this reality. We are often brought into the care scenario when there is a crisis and the family care provider is not being able to manage the situation anymore.

Another interesting finding by the Merrill Lynch study shows the reasons why people consider moving their loved one to a  care facility. 67% of respondents say that they felt that the care recipient or themselves were in physical danger. 33% said that their loved one's behavior was becoming hard to manage, while 20% mentioned stress.

But it doesn't have to be like that. All these three reasons can be overcome with Home Care, allowing your loved one to continue living independently and safe where they are most comfortable: at home.

Here are the key findings from the study.

Key findings:

Family caregiving start is sudden and stressful

  • 41% of respondents say they entered the role of being a family caregiver suddenly;
  • 1 in 3 caregivers do not get respite from caregiving responsibilities, but want it;
  • 83% of sandwiched caregivers say they are struggling to find the balance between caregiving and other responsibilities;
  • 74% of adults with elderly care responsibilities have worked at a paying job at some point during their caregiving experience.

The cost of elderly home care in family caregiving

  • 92% of caregivers say they are also financial caregivers, performing at least one aspect of financial caregiving during their caregiving journey;

  • 68% of caregivers help to pay for care expenses with their money;

  • On average, caregivers spend $7,000 on home care per year, which goes toward paying for personal, medical and household needs of their loved one;

  • In total, financial caregivers collectively spend an estimated $190 billion per year on their home care recipients for out-of-pocket, care-related expenses.

Spouses and women spend more money and time with elderly care

  • Working women caregivers spend, on average, approximately 60% more time performing at home care tasks for aging loved ones, compared to their male counterparts. 
  • Caregivers for a spouse spend 68% more money than the average and those who are caregiving from a distance spend 71% more than the national average.

 Most siblings do not contribute to elderly care

  • 68% of caregivers directly contribute financially to the care of their recipient. Paying for the costs of care may come from multiple stakeholders within a single family;

  • Only 17% of caregivers say another family member besides the caregiver or care recipient is contributing to care-related expenses; 
  • 76% Seventy-six percent of caregivers think that if a sibling isn’t providing hands-on care to a parent, they should pitch in by contributing financially to the cost of care. 

Care recipients can’t manage their finances

  • after two years of care, financial caregivers report that 53% of care recipients need full assistance with their finances; 
  • In the same period, only 12% of care recipients are independently managing their finances. 

No legal authorization and bank passwords

  • With nearly 12 million people needing full assistance managing their finances, one in four financial coordinators struggles to be granted permission from banks to access financial accounts; 
  • 49% of financial caregivers do not have the legal authority to perform their role; 
  • One in three respondents said a top challenge was locating passwords and account information. 

Need financial advice

  • 52% of caregivers said they have no idea how much they’ve spent on caregiving-related expenses and 45% couldn’t estimate the amount they spent on them in the last month; 
  • 66% of caregivers feel they could benefit from financial advice. 

The higher cost of Alzheimer’s Home Care

Alzheimer's Home Care

  • Those caring for Alzheimer’s patients spend 2.6X more time caregiving than the average caregiver

  • Caregivers who provide Alzheimer’s Care or Dementia Care spend, on average, 54% more than the average caregiver.

 The challenging future of Elderly Home Care

  • 86% of caregivers are providing care to someone 50+

  • The number of 75-year olds without nearby children will increase 6 times by in 2030.

  • 7 in 10 Americans turning 65 today will need care for prolonged periods in their lives, but only 4 in 10 Americans age 50+ believe they’re likely to ever need care.

  • Only one-third of adults over 40 say they have money set aside to pay for their long-term care;

  • Only 11% of adults over 65 have long-term care insurance.

 “The message is clear: financial coordinators need help,” says the Merrill Lynch report.

In its conclusions, the report brings three suggestions for people who are helping (or expect) to manage their parents’ finances:

  1. Talk openly with your family about this topic. Specifically, ask your parents whom they want to handle the different aspects of their care. For example, do they want the same person to handle their finances as to provide hands-on care if needed? Sometimes the care responsibilities will be taken by one of the siblings who live near their parents. Financial administration, however, could be performed by one who lives far away.

  2. Find now where your parents’ medical, legal and financial documents are located. There may be a time when they will be unable to tell you where these documents are.

  3. Get professional help. If you think you need any advice to manage your loved one’s finances, hire an experienced financial adviser. It will be easier to start this conversation with professional help from a third party.

Ask for Home Care Help

And I would add a fourth recommendation for those who need respite, believe that their loved one is in danger of getting hurt or have difficulty managing their behavior. Don't wait until it is too late. Ask for help. Home Helpers is one of the best home care agencies in the United States. From one hour to 24/7 care, we are here to help you go through this difficult situation.

Call us for a free in-home care consultation:
(860) 698-2244 (CT)
(413) 224-1045 (MA)

Learn more about Home Helpers Elderly Care Suffield, CT

The best in-home senior care cost-benefit  in Suffield CT, Enfield CT, Somers CT, Vernon CT, Tolland CT, Agawam MA, East Longmeadow MA, Longmeadow MA, Hampden MA and all Western Mass and North Central CT