The (not so) Hidden Costs of Caregiving
AARP just ran an article in their Bulletin with the above title, but lacking my parenthetical expression. The article is a compilation of caregiving factoids relating to what AARP refers to as 'hidden costs' of caregiving. I generally like AARP, but between you and me, after reading their caregiving articles I always wonder if anyone writing about caregiving for AARP has ever been a caregiver or had any firsthand caregiving experiences. I found this espeically true with this article since what they call 'hidden' are out there in plain, painful sight to every caregiver I have ever met! So without any further of my own editorial comment, here are the highlights:
1. "You face unexpected ongoing costs. 78% of caregivers pay out of pocket for costs associated with caregiving, averaging $7,000 a year, raising to $12,000 a year for those living more than an hour away.
2. You find it harder to build wealth. 25% reduce their retirement savings while 23% take on more debt.
3. You skimp on your own needs. Caregiving forces people to cut back on: household maintenance (37%); clothes and personal care items (30%); groceries (25%); utilities (12%); and education for their children (11%).
4. You sacrifice your own work. 32% of caregivers have left a job because of the overwhelming demands of caregiving.
5. You pay less attention to your own health. Saying over the prior 12 months caregivers gave up 36% dental care, 35% routine or preventive care, 33% a recommended test or treatment, 31% going to the doctor when ill or injured, and 28% filling a prescription for themselves."
Two things stuck out to me in this article. First, as I said I find it shocking AARP thinks these costs are hidden when every caregiver deals with them! Second that once again a caregiving article ends with the all too common Pablum of suggestions on how to 'get relief', none of which actually address the previous five costs. AARP rolls out the usual 'get help from others', look to government resources, and ask HR for the resources they offer caregivers. If only it were this easy!
I am not sure about other caregivers here, but I experienced all five and they certainly were far from hidden in my life!