Caregiving for a Loved One Has Costs Beyond What Most Plan For
I am going to get vulnerable for a few minutes here, and share a subject near and dear to my heart, that my family is currently experiencing. For over 15 years, I have discussed planning with many of my clients surrounding if their aging parents end up needing long term care, and the potential “costs”. Most of this planning centers around the actual costs of the care, meaning facility, meals, medical attention, home healthcare, etc. But what I’m learning through my mother’s situation is that there are many other potential “costs”.
I can say with conviction that being a caregiver for a loved one is probably one of the most difficult tasks a person can undertake. My father recently has been in this position for my mother, who was diagnosed with early Dementia. This has been a tough 5 months on the entire family, and I can vouch that having professional caregivers helps minimize some of the physical strain but does not alleviate the mental, emotional, and financial stress. I read a great article recently in Kiplinger that went over some of the common financial concerns that you may need to prepare for one day. The examples refer to a married couple, but are not that much different if caring for a parent or a disabled child.
Work Costs: If both husband and wife work outside the home, and one is now unable to work and needs long term care, often the spouse if the main caregiver (like my father). Once the caregiver’s vacation and sick days run out, they may lose the pay for hours lost or even their job. Now, this is a double whammy, with money flowing out and little coming in through income.
Professional Service Costs: Often things like yardwork or house cleaning that the sick spouse normally did may now have to be outsourced. This can get very expensive quick, along with things like needing groceries delivered or other routine chores.
Health Costs on the Caregiver: Caregivers are human, and can easily get burned out, and find their health failing or postpone routine checkups because they don’t have time to focus on themselves. Delaying these checkups can lead to more serious issues later.
Emotional Costs: I can sure speak to this one- caregivers can become frustrated and depressed, unrelated to how they feel and love the family member in need. The caregiver can lose sleep, gain or lose weight, and run on empty. I’ve been pushing on my dad to do some self care, like a massage or go to the gym, but he has so far refused as his selfless tendencies (which I admire) take over. He can only go so long before this will catch up with him.
If you are going through this, I would advise you to plan to help relieve the caretaker for a few hours so they can take a nice bath, or walk, or read a book. I regularly ask my dad to go have lunch, walk Jolene around the lake with me, or go to a Preds game just to put a smile on his face. We are all wired as humans for connection and need love to thrive. We are all in this together, so I thought I would share just in case you are publicly or secretly dealing with this tough life transition. Contact me anytime if you want to discuss confidentially- I get the struggle.
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