Sunday, August 14, 2016

Caregivers deserve support, not debt

Finally, I can see the light.

I’m slowly but steadily climbing my way out of a mountain of debt that I accrued as a caregiver.

The financial burden of being a caregiver can be devastating, but it is often overlooked. We don’t like to talk about caregiving in dollars and cents, because acts of compassion are priceless, right?

Well, not quite. Doing the right thing morally can destroy you financially.

Caregivers shouldn’t be forced to choose between family duty and financial stability. A new University of Pittsburgh study, “Addressing the Needs of Caregivers at Risk: A New Policy Strategy,” outlines the grim realities caregivers currently face, while offering suggestions for policy improvements. According to the study, family caregivers provide over 90 percent of the long-term care for 12 million Americans, yet lack access to meaningful financial resources and helpful programs like flexible working schedules.

In five years as my parents’ caregiver, I racked up over $20,000 in credit card debt. I burned through my modest savings and drained a Roth IRA before tapping into my parents’ savings. I was a few months away from tapping into my 401K before my financial situation began to improve.

In many respects, I was fortunate.

Initially, the additional expenses I incurred as a long-distance caregiver were manageable. My parents retired to New Mexico and I live in Georgia. After my father was placed in a memory care facility, I paid for what the monthly fee didn’t include, such as adult diapers and nutritional drinks. Even with my father’s Teamsters pension and Social Security, there was not enough to cover the over $4,000 monthly facility payment, so after exhausting dad’s limited savings, my mother was forced to dip into money she had won from a lottery jackpot. After taxes, the amount totaled about $60,000, and over half was spent on my father’s medical care.  (Click to continue)

Full Article & Source:
Caregivers deserve support, not debt


Lillian said...

I appreciate every word of this article. Thank you NASGA.

StandUp said...

I agree. Without caregivers, usually family members, all would be lost. They are essential to our well-being and should be treated as such.