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Being a caregiver is extremely stressful. It weighs heavily not only on the caregiver’s finances, but also their career, as well as their physical and emotional state.
According to a recent study, there are roughly 40.4 million unpaid caregivers who are providing care for adults over the age of 65 in the United States. Of that group, 90% are caregiving for an aging relative, typically a parent or in-law. Most caregivers are 45 to 64 years old.
With these statistics, chances are high that you have quite a few clients in your practice who are caregivers themselves and need your support.
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There is a caregiving crisis of sorts facing many Americans. According to a Wall Street Journal report published in January 2019, nearly three-quarters of U.S. employees have caregiving responsibilities, in addition to their job. Of those, nearly 32% of employees say they have left a job because they couldn’t balance their work and family duties.
If they don’t leave their job, then many need to resort to reducing their work hours or changing their schedule. According to a recent “study”:https://news.northwesternmutual.com/2018-care-study by Northwestern Mutual, 21% of caregivers had to reduce their hours at work and 20% had to change their work schedule.
The majority of caregivers are middle-aged daughters or daughters-in-law. A report published by Hartford Funds found that nearly 60% of caregivers are women. This group of women is often referred to as the ‘sandwich generation,’ as they are caught in the middle of caring for both their aging parents and their children.
As a result, they are stressed and struggling to balance their career and caregiving responsibilities.
According to a recent study by Harvard Business School, more than 80% of employees with caregiving responsibilities admitted that their caregiving responsibilities affect their productivity at work. Simply put, they are not able to perform to the best of their ability because they have too much on their plate all at once.
The same study suggests that not only are these caregivers struggling to perform at their jobs, but the challenges are affecting their lives financially, physically, and emotionally.
According to a research report from AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, nearly one in five caregivers indicate they have a financial strain, as a result of being a caregiver. Seventeen percent indicated they have experienced a high level of financial strain due to their caregiving responsibilities.
One in four caregivers report it is difficult to find affordable caregiving services in their loved one’s community.
A report from Hartford Funds and MIT AgeLab indicates that caregivers spend an average of $5,531 annually on out-of-pocket caregiving expenses. These caregiving expenses include things like, travel and transportation costs, medical expenses, food, and meals.
Do your caregiving clients’ current financial plans include the potential financial burden of their caregiving responsibilities? Help them to evaluate this. Also, remember to prepare your other clients who may be facing caregiving responsibilities in the future.
As caregivers, your clients are providing a wide range of unpaid, extensive activities and needs to help the care recipient. They may be helping to manage everything from arranging or providing transportation to doctor appointments, handling medication, meal preparation, and cleaning, among numerous other tasks. This is all in addition to their everyday life and career responsibilities.
It is no wonder that one in four caregivers face physical strain as a result of their caregiving responsibilities. Additionally, four in ten caregivers indicate that their caregiving situation is highly stressful.
Unfortunately, the well-being of caregivers is often not acknowledged and it should be addressed. The Northwestern Mutual study cites that almost half of caregivers only ‘sometimes’ get the emotional support they need. They do not share their feelings because they don’t want to burden others or be judged. They also believe others cannot relate to how they are feeling.
Be sure your clients who are caregivers know they are not alone. Help them to be aware of their emotional needs and encourage them to remember to also focus on themselves and their overall well-being. After all, they cannot do their caregiving duties if they are not taking care of themselves.
Share resources with them that can help them feel as though they are not alone. Encourage them to find support groups that can help them connect with others in the same situation to provide a sense of community about their feelings and emotions. Urge them to talk with their spouse, siblings, and other family members.
Websites like caregiving.com, aarp.org/caregiving, caregiver.org, and caregiveraction.org are great resources to share with your caregiver clients.
You can also suggest senior assistance programs that may be available locally such as meal delivery programs, transportation, and shopping services for the care recipient. While these resources may not take all of the caregiving responsibilities off of their plate, having help with some of the caregiving tasks may help reduce some of their stress.
Also, tap into your network of professional contacts and create a referral list for your caregiver clients to connect with specialists like home health care agencies, medical professionals, geriatric social workers, estate planning attorneys, and accountants.
Caregiving is stressful and there is not a manual to follow when your clients take on the role of being a caregiver. Offering your clients your help and support may make their situation a bit easier for them.
While some caregiving duties may happen over time, for others becoming a caregiver happens instantly due to a major health event. Creating a caregiving plan in advance and a financial plan that incorporates these unforeseen expenses can lessen the future potential financial burden and stress.
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