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The Impact of Caregiving on the Caregiver

Working in marketing with Virginia Baptist Homes I am always curious to find out why new residents choose to move to one of our communities.  Over the last several years one common thing I hear from new residents who I ask this question to is; “Moving here is a gift I am giving to my children” or another common response is “I don’t ever want to be a burden on my children”.  Then the resident proceeds to tell me about the experience they had caring for their Mom or Dad and how difficult it was for them both physically and mentally.  One new resident at The Chesapeake had a little different philosophy, she told me moving to the community “freed me from the fear of ever having to live with my children”-that makes sense to me; I hope I never have to move in with either of my two daughters!   The common refrain of not wanting to be a burden made sense to me but the message really rang home when I recently came across a recent study from MetLife on the cost of caregiving for the caregivers.

 

The MetLife Mature Market Institute published a study titled the “Working Caregivers and Employer Health Care Costs” in 2010.  The study did a wonderful job of highlighting some of the costs associated with being a caregiver.  Here are some of the highlights from the study:

 

*The proportion of adult children providing personal care or financial assistance to a parent has tripled in the last 15 years.  Currently ¼ of adult children (mostly Baby Boomers) are providing this care.

*Sons and daughters are equally likely to provide assistance to parents, however women are more likely to provide basic care and sons are more likely to provide financial assistance.

*Total estimated lost wages, pension benefits and social security is estimated to be nearly 3 trillion dollars.

*The estimated impact on women who leave the workforce early or suffer reduced hours is $324,044 and for men the impact estimate is $303,880.  This estimate is derived by calculating lost or reduced wages, reduced pension benefits, and reduced social security benefits.

*Adult children 50+ who work and provide care to a parent are more likely to have fair or poor health than those who are not caregivers.

 

If the above information is true then residents of our communities truly are giving their children a wonderful gift by moving to a continuing care retirement community (CCRC).  The adult child no longer has to provide hands-on care (should the need arise), transportation to doctor’s offices, or home maintenance etc.  Most adult children would not mind helping their parents, because they did take care of us for so many years so it only seems fair!  Lord knows after all the support my parents gave me growing up; it’s only fair that I provide them support as they need it. However it would be nice to never have to worry about becoming a caregiver for Mom or Dad with all the other demands that come with working and raising children.  And from listening to many VBH residents, most parents don’t want to have to move back in with one of their children.  Adult children with parents in CCRCs can act as a strong advocate for their parents with whatever challenges they face and leave the caregiving up to those who are trained and equipped to do it.  The decision to move to a CCRC truly is a valuable gift.

 

If you would like more information about the MetLife study I quoted above or if you have a comment about this article, feel free to email me at probinson@vbh.org.

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