3 Hidden Costs of Caregiving

in Tips & Advice

We all want to see our parents enjoy their golden years. We want to help them age gracefully and with dignity. And caregiving can be a very rewarding experience.

When weighing the cost of being a caregiver against the cost of Senior Living or Memory Care, it’s important to factor in the hidden costs. You might just find it to be a rewarding option that can actually save you time and money while offering the opportunity for a more fulfilling relationship with your parents.

In the U.S. today, more than 34 million family members provide care for an adult over the age of 50. Whether you’ve recently assumed the role or have been caregiving for years, you understand that taking care of your aging mom or dad comes with certain commitments.

Occupational Cost

A 2015 study from AARP and the National Alliance for caregiving reported that, on average, caregivers provide 25 hours of care weekly.

That’s like working a second job.

Caregivers who successfully juggle career and caregiving have found that it’s important to be open and upfront with their employer about the situation. From offering work-at-home options to reworking schedules, many employers are realizing the necessity of flexibility as the number of caregivers in the workforce continues to climb. While it’s definitely an option, Senior Living can provide the care your parent needs leaving you to maintain your career and spend quality time with your parent — on your terms and theirs.

Relational Cost

Trying to juggle career and caregiving, family and caregiving — or all three — is a huge time commitment. Maintaining important relationships with friends, mentors and even family becomes difficult.

When it comes to prioritizing, one of the first things to fall to the bottom of the list (especially for women) is time spent bonding with friends or extended family. When you’re physically and mentally exhausted, the last thing on your mind is a girl’s night out.

Similarly, when caregivers focus most of their time and attention on meeting the needs of a parent, a spouse or significant other is typically the next on the list to feel neglected. Just like money,
and sex, the stress of caregiving can drive a wedge between couples. kids

Another relationship that may suffer is the one between siblings. It’s not uncommon for the bulk of caregiving responsibilities to fall on one child. Perhaps it’s because you live closest to your parent, or you have developed a closer relationship with your mom recently. Either way, an uneven split of duties is a very common occurrence.

Read our blog post “Caregiver Overload? How to Ask Siblings for Help” for some great advice on getting siblings involved in caregiving.

Of course, there’s also the flip side: All the siblings are (or want to be) involved, but there are disagreements about what Mom and Dad’s future should look like. Take the pressure off everyone involved by exploring a variety of care options to suit your parents’ needs and the needs of the rest of the family.

Emotional Cost

One thing that’s not talked about much is the emotional cost this stage of life can have on the person being cared for. The entire spectrum of emotions comes into play when someone must rely on a family member, especially a child, to care for them.

Unless your parent lives with you and you don’t work, there’s no way you can be with him all day. A very common development among the elderly is loneliness. If your parent was active and used to interact with others regularly, being alone throughout the day may progress to depression. Add to that the guilt often associated with needing care in the first place — not wanting to be “a burden” — and these emotions can quickly take a toll on the health of an aging parent.

Senior Living options today all but ensure your parent will have a large community of friends and a variety of activities to help her keep active, healthy and happy.

If you’re on the fence about what type of long-term care will best meet your parent’s needs, or you’re in the process of re-evaluating your options, contact a community relations team member for information about the senior care solutions offered by Spectrum Retirement Communities.