There are so many issues surrounding caregiving it can make your head spin. Caregiving is extremely stressful, takes up a lot of time, and the emotional impact is of course substantial. According to a new report, the financial strain is just as significant. 15 million in the U.S. care for someone who has dementia or Alzheimer’s, without receiving any financial compensation. These men and women owed over $221 billion in 2015. That’s eight times what McDonald’s brings in each year. Yet, they only received $12.25 an hour in benefits. There are lots of caregivers who go without needed medication or other such items themselves in order to care for their loved one. According to this report, 20% went without doctor’s care, 11% cut back on their own medication, and 11% spent less on their children’s educational needs. One out of every eight caregivers sold something such as a home, car, jewelry, or furniture to help pay for medical bills and other expenses for those with dementia.
This was the 2016 Alzheimer’s Association report entitled, “Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures.” 3,500 adults from across the country who cared for an elderly relative or friend, with dementia or Alzheimer’s, answered the survey. Caregivers spend $5,155 per year on a senior on average. Yet, the cost of care ranged widely, from $1,000 to well over $100,000. Compared with caregivers whose loved one did not have dementia, those whose senior did were more likely to struggle with food insecurity and significant financial difficulty. Around half of respondents said they had to cut back on spending on themselves in order to pay for the care of their loved one. The cost of dementia is a serious problem, and it is only expected to get worse as more Americans grow old and acquire it. Even so, only one-third of caregivers knew that Medicare doesn’t pay for custodial care in nursing homes. This is feeding, dressing, bathing, and other life-related, non-medical services. That means a person could pay $80,000-$90,000 a year for Alzheimer’s or dementia care. Many of these caregivers ended up paying their own retirement savings to care for their parents. Much more must be done to help caregivers shoulder the financial burden of dementia care, particularly before the enormous number of baby boomers begin to have these problems.