Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Caregiving Noted in Survey at Thanksgiving

A Press Release issued on November 20, 2007, entitled "New Survey Finds That Half of Caregivers Spend 10 Percent of Their Income Caring for an Older Loved One", quantifies how caregivers spent their own assets, time, and opportunities for the benefit of the loved ones they serve.

The study provides the "First, In-Depth Look at What Caregivers Spend and What They Sacrifice."

Caring for a loved one 50 years or older-as many as 17 million Americans-spend more than 10 percent of their annual income on caregiving expenses and often sacrifice their own financial and personal well-being to do so, according to a new Evercare/National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) study.

The Evercare/NAC Study finds that caregivers who have annual median income of $43,026 spend an average $5,531 a year on caregiving. At lower income levels, the annual average costs remained about $5,500, making their financial burden even heavier. * * *
The Press Release noted the study's more detailed findings about caregivers' expenditures of money for the benefit of seniors (50 years or older) in their care:
  • One in three respondents (34 percent) has used their own savings to cover the cost of caregiving
  • One-quarter (23 percent) have cut back on their own health care spending
  • 38 percent are saving less or not at all for their children's future
  • Many cut back on basics: clothing, utilities or transportation (27 percent) and groceries (25 percent)
  • 23 percent cut back on personal medical or dental expenses
It further reported about the most common caregiving expenses that respondents incurred:
  • Household goods, food and meals (42 percent)
  • Travel and transportation costs (40 percent)
  • Medical co-pays and pharmaceuticals (31 percent)
  • Medical equipment and supplies (22 percent)
  • Clothing (21 percent).
Perhaps more important was the commitment of time:
More than half of the Study respondents (53 percent) did not work while 37 percent of the respondents said they had quit their job or reduced their work hours.

The respondents also reported they were spending on average 35.4 hours a week caring for their loved one with 19 percent providing care for more than three years and 32 percent caregiving for more than five years.
To enable such major expenditures of funds and time in caregiving, respondents were making significant sacrifices:
  • Cutting back on leisure activities (49 percent) and vacations (47 percent)
  • Saving less or not at all for their children's future (38 percent)
  • Using their savings (34 percent)
  • Cutting back on basics such as clothing, utilities or transportation (27 percent) and groceries (25 percent)
  • Cutting back on personal medical or dental expenses (23 percent)
The Press Release briefly acknowledged other tolls paid by the caregivers: "[S]tatistics from a 2005 brief provided by The Commonwealth Fund show that caregivers are twice as likely as the general population to develop multiple chronic illnesses." See: "A Look at Working-Age Caregivers’ Roles, Health Concerns, and Need for Support" (August, 2005, PDF, 12 pages); and its website topic "Care of the Elderly".

So, at Thanksgiving, give thanks for caregivers. Honor those who give daily, practically, unselfishly, from their "time, treasure, and talents", for others.