Category: Elder Care
Tags: Nursing Homes, Retirement

Elder Care Legal Planning: Non-Financial Costs of Caregiving

Posted on: November 13th, 2015
caregiver guideWhen presented the option, some family members take on the caregiver role for an aging relative. Oftentimes this is done in an effort to preserve the elderly person’s freedom and comfort at home. Opting for a family caregiver might seem financially attractive as well. Living with a family member who provides basic care needs helps to avoid a $43,000 average annual cost for assisted living in North Carolina, and more than double that for a private nursing home room. However, caregivers often carry financial and non-financial burdens as a result. November is National Caregivers Month and we created an infographic (below) illustrating these 'costs' as well as provide a free Caregiver Guide available as an eBook here.

More than 1,000 individuals were polled by insurance giant Genworth, and about half of those surveyed experienced career effects as a direct result of taking on caregiving. Whether they lost a job, changed careers, or simply worked less in order to care for a loved one, taking on the role of caregiver reduced their income by about 60 percent on average. This could spark a chain of long-term concerns: Will the caregiver be able to cover their own current living expenses, save for retirement, or cover their own long-term care costs? While helping a loved one in need is honorable, it requires careful planning.

Aside from monetary concerns, a caregiver is under emotional, psychological, and physical stress. Witnessing a loved one’s health deteriorate while coping with personal career loss or change can affect enjoyment of life over a long period. A caregiver might not be able to return to the type of work that had fulfilled them. Transitioning back into professional life after dedicating months or years as a caregiver could risk opportunities for advancement and pride in work. 

Outside of work, social support systems could be lost. Friendships and ties with community could be neglected when time is replaced with providing care.

Physically, caregivers need stamina, clear mental health for managing prescription medications, and a degree of strength depending on the day-to-day personal care needs of the elderly person. 

Individuals who are exploring the option of becoming a caregiver in North Carolina should be aware of the resources available. For one, some benefits programs provide compensation to caregivers—even family members. Our Chapel Hill elder law attorneys are available to provide more detail regarding this potential resource. Secondly, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services receives grant funding for family caregiver support from the National Family Caregiver Support Program. There are also training programs to help an individual develop knowledge about what they can offer a relative in need.

Elder care legal planning is not just about addressing assets and finances. It is important to look at the personal needs of the people providing and receiving care. Creating a comprehensive estate plan in advance can help to manage concerns down the road.

By Attorney Katie Muhlenkamp

caregiving expenses

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