Family Caregiving in 2017: A Full-Time Unpaid Job for Many

Caring.com 2017 Caregiver Journey

More than four in 10 family caregivers spend $5,000 or more annually on caregiving, according to a new Caring.com survey of 2,767 family caregivers. Close to half rely on family funds to cover costs. And with nearly 40% of respondents also spending more than 30 hours per week on caregiving, caring for a loved one has become a full-time unpaid job for many.

“Quite often caregivers find themselves dipping into their own pockets to pay for caregiving expenses,” said Tim Sullivan, Vice President at Caring.com. “Without a plan in place, savings can be depleted and retirement delayed. It’s so important to make the time to speak with your loved ones about finances, eldercare and planning for the future,” Sullivan added.

Read on to see our main findings from this year's survey and see the infographic at the end of the page.


Caregivers Take on Steep Costs, Long Hours and Heartache

Caregiving in 2017 Infographic


Caregivers Face High Out-of-Pocket Expenses

44% of respondents spend at least $5,000 annually to care for their loved ones, with 25% spending $10,000 and more.

Caregivers for those with diagnosed dementia are more likely to spend a whopping $50,000 or more annually. 10% report spending this amount compared to just 3% of caregivers for those without diagnosed dementia.

Although there are a number of government programs that offer financial payment to family caregivers, the vast majority of all caregivers -- 90% -- do not receive compensation for their caregiving work. Medicare is the most-used source of financial assistance to cover care costs, but close to half of caregivers (48%) also report dipping into family funds to pay for care.

"Programs like Medicaid Cash and Counseling and Veterans Directed Care can offer great benefits to family caregivers. We need to make them much more accessible and increase caregiver awareness of these programs," says Sullivan.

For caregivers living with their loved one, 32% feel that their finances do not allow for any other arrangement.

Nearly All are Worried about Affordable Health Care

With so much debate over health care reform in recent months, we asked caregivers how they felt about the future of affordable health care. 90% say they are concerned about having affordable health care in the future.

The most common expenses that caregivers pay for are food and clothing, transportation/travelling for care, medication, and legal services.

Most common caregiving expense

Caregiving is a Full-Time Job for Many

Nearly four in 10 respondents (38%) spend more than 30 hours per week on caregiving, making it comparable to a full-time job.

Many caregivers are juggling employment with caregiving, with more than a third (33%) working full-time or part-time. Of these working caregivers, 68% said their caregiving had a strong or some negative impact on their work. And a huge number of caregivers -- 79% -- have had to miss work in the past year because of caregiving. 13% of all caregivers said they had to leave their job due to caregiving duties.

"This data highlights the need for better paid family leave policies at the national level. The Family Medical Leave Act is a good start, but family caregivers often lose out on pay during the times when they have the greatest financial need," notes Sullivan.

How to Help Caregivers in Your Midst

More than half (58%) of caregivers live with the person they’re caring for. 54% have lived together longer than three years.

The most common caregiving activities are shopping, attending appointments, managing finances or paying bills, providing transportation, and communicating with friends and family about their loved one's condition.

Most common caregiving activity

With so much on their plate, the one task that caregivers most want help with is regular companionship for their loved one.

Most common caregiving activity

Task Caregivers Who Need Help Loved Ones Willing to Accept Help
Regular Companionship 47% 39%
Light Housework 32% 41%
Bathing or Personal Hygiene 31% 31%
Providing Transportation 27% 34%
Running Errands 24% 30%
Preparing Meals 23% 37%
Attending Medical Appointments 22% 22%
Shopping for Food and Personal Care Items 20% 28%
Administering and/or Tracking Medication 15% 25%
Assisting with Physical Therapy or Exercises 15% 29%
Using the Toilet 15% 19%
Dressing 14% 25%
None of the Above 22% 23%

About Caring's Family Caregiver Journey Survey

Caring's mission is to help the helpers. We equip family caregivers with free resources to make better decisions, save time and money, and feel less alone -- and less stressed -- as they face the many challenges of caregiving. These resources include articles by caregiving experts, support groups, practical newsletters, local directories of senior care services, and more.

Our yearly Family Caregiver Journey survey measures how family caregivers of older adults living in the U.S. hold up financially as they care for elder loved ones. From August 29 – September 17, 2017, Pretell Market Research conducted an online survey among Caring.com users, and received responses from 2,767 family caregivers. No incentive was offered.

Help us spread the word about family caregivers' needs. Use the following embed code to share this infographic that summarizes our survey findings:

<a href="https://www.caring.com/research_stories/caregiving-in-2017/" target="_blank"><img src="https://d35dnuw4rnaeot.cloudfront.net/caregiver_journey_2017_infographic.jpg" alt="Caring.com 2017 Caregiver Journey"></a>

Caring.com 2017 Caregiver Journey


28 days ago, said...

Why doesn't Caring.com have more information about financial resources for caregivers of the elderly? Getting help is next to impossible from a beaurocratic government. Illegal aliens can get help, but people like my 93-yr-old mother who has paid taxes her entire life get nothing. Medicare and Medicaid are a joke. Both my sister and I retired early (when we couldn't afford to) to care for her and the only thing she gets is a share-of-cost program for medical expenses. I guess if we put her in an old-folks home and let Medicaid pay for it - is the only way. And we won't do that! All the so-called support groups like AARP are worthless too. They're just a left-leaning political group. And the senior support groups are worthless too...they provide no assistance and what advise they give is OFTEN very bad. The seniors of this country should mobilize (the Baby Boom Generation are all retiring) and get something done. I'm tired of my tax money being spent overseas for nations that hate our guts; money spent on illegal aliens; money spent on lavish prisons; etc.


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