More Than Three-Quarters of Caregivers Report Financial, Social, Mental or Professional Setbacks
by Paul Lorrah
- Nearly 1 in 4 caregivers spend 41 hours or more per week providing care. [National Alliance for Caregiving]
- 64% of Caregivers Did Not Look Into Asking Employer Whether Special Benefits or Flexible Options Were Available
- Planning Can Make a Big Difference:
The positive impact for caregivers of having a roadmap in place
Caregiving may be one of the greatest acts of selflessness but it also has a profound impact on one’s financial goals, social life, mental health and career. While most caregivers say the choice to provide care was something they wanted to do regardless of the challenges, the pandemic has amplified their stress, with more than half of current caregivers saying their hours devoted to care have increased.
“Unless you’re in the thick of providing care, you may not realize the impact the experience can have”
With the U.S. moving out of what appears to be the worst of the pandemic, now may be the ideal time for a reset. Especially if caregivers ask for help, both at home and at work and mindfully build a roadmap for success.
Studies, which examine the emotional and financial costs of caregiving, find that more than half of respondents (59%) say from the start, the decision to become a caregiver was a mostly emotional rather than a practical decision.
83% feel they had no other choice but to assume the responsibilities. Of concern, 79% also say the decision set them back on a variety of fronts, including financial goals, social life, mental health and their career.
“Unless you’re in the thick of providing care, you may not realize the impact the experience can have,” said Stacey Watson, senior vice president of Life Event Planning at Fidelity Investments. “When a member of the family takes on caregiving responsibilities, others may not realize the true toll it takes. Awareness and communication are critical elements to a successful support system that benefits both the cared-for and the caregiver.”
The Impact of Caregiving on Careers
By far, the impact to one’s career can be one of the most difficult issues caregivers grapple with during the experience. These obligations clearly make continuing employment responsibilities difficult or impossible and according to surveys, more than one-quarter of caregivers for adults left a job, took a leave of absence, or shifted to part-time work in order to provide care.
One practical solution to improve this situation is to actively seek out help from one’s employer, which may include asking about greater flexibility as well as financial and emotional support benefits. Depending upon your role, you may have more flexibility than you think.
64% of working caregivers said they did not look into asking their employer whether special benefits or flexible options were available. For the roughly one-third that did ask, most discovered their employer was willing to work to accommodate their needs.
To Lessen the Stress, Build a Roadmap for Success
One powerful, transformative step that often is overlooked: putting a solid plan in place to outline caregiving responsibilities.
1) work with a physician to determine the care needed
2) determine how many hours per day that person may need care
3) take a realistic look at whether you can provide the care needed for that many hours. If not, who will help?
4) what finances are available to hire home health agencies to assist
5) what government benefits programs are available to aid on the cost of care.
Take It from Other Caregivers: Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Out Assistance
When it comes to offering advice to people contemplating taking on caregiving duties, experienced caregivers agree that whenever possible, make planning for care a family affair, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
“Caregiving can be a tremendously rewarding experience, but to lessen the emotional burden, having a good support system in place is essential.”
“Although selflessness comes with the territory, the problem with neglecting one’s own needs can be disastrous, creating a sense of helplessness and burnout. That’s why it’s important to take time to plan for as many contingencies as you possibly can—and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.”
Finally, make sure to fully understand the financial impact of taking on caregiving responsibilities. Fewer than one in five caregivers took the time to estimate the full impact of lost wages, savings and social security benefits.