Nearly 40% of Americans have experience providing long-term care to a family member, friend or senior loved one. Recently, a study designed to give greater insight into the burdens of caregiving found that many of these caregivers are making great financial, medical and social sacrifices to provide care.
Learn more about the study, the burden placed on caregivers and the personal sacrifices they make for their loved ones.
A recent survey conducted by the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that unpaid caregivers make great financial, medical and social sacrifices.
The study polled over 1,000 caregivers throughout the United States and found that:
Additionally, nearly 33% of caregivers also said they have neglected their own personal care, including dental exams, routine physical exams and skipped medical tests or treatments. The respondents also admitted to not seeing a doctor when they were sick.
Personal care is not the only thing caregivers are sacrificing, however. In addition to prioritizing the care of others, nearly 80% of caregivers pay for the expenses associated with that care.
The majority of survey respondents made less than $50,000 per year and more than 10% spend over $500 per month on caregiving costs, while 20% took on debt to cover caregiving expenses.
Associate Director and Vice President of the Health Care Department at NORC at the University of Chicago, Michelle Strollo, says, “I think people don’t always appreciate how taxing… the job of caregiver can be for individuals. Caregivers sacrifice their many social relationships, including relationships with their spouses, other family members and friends, that comes at a cost to them emotionally.”
Researchers hope that the survey will inform communities and policymakers, acting as a needs assessment for how communities can better support caregivers.
Seeing the burden of unpaid caregivers financially, medically and socially will hopefully bring more care opportunities, financial and legal aid, support groups and transportation solutions for caregivers.
Professor of Gerontology at the University of Southern California, Donna Benton, states, “Caregivers are the backbone of our long-term care system. If we didn’t have family caregivers with unpaid help, our health care system would pretty much collapse.”
She adds, “The results indicate that these caregivers are very invested in providing care to their loved ones, but they have a lot of needs themselves. So, I think the research begs the question — who is providing support for the caregivers?”
What personal sacrifices have you made while providing care to a parent or senior loved one? We’d like to hear your stories in the comments below.