There are about 10 million adults over the age of 50 in the United States who provide care for their aging parents. During the past 15 years, the number of adult children providing primary financial or personal care for their parents has increased more than three times. About 25 percent of all adult children in the country today are the primary care providers for their parents. The same number is almost equal to the number of non-working adult children who help their parents.
The Cost of Caregiving
These caregivers are also planning for their own retirement, and the task of being a primary caregiver can negatively affect saving efforts. A study from MetLife looked at the impact of caregiving on adult children and their future financial status.
According to MetLife's survey, the level of care provided by adult children to parents is about the same between male and female. However, men are more likely to provide financial assistance, and women tend to provide more personal care. The cumulative amount of lost Social Security benefits, pensions, and wages among these adult caregivers is around $3 trillion.
Balancing Caregiving and Career
Caregiving often ends up becoming a physical, mental and financial burden for the caregiver. The demands of both caregiving and a part-time or full-time job can leave those involved exhausted. PBS News reports that the average age of caregivers is 49, which is a peak year for career achievement and financial stability. Nonetheless, about 10 percent of caregivers end up quitting their jobs to provide full-time care, losing substantial income.
The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP estimate that 70 percent of working caregivers suffer work-related difficulties due to their dual roles. Moreover, caregivers are forced to miss an average of 6.6 days of work annually because of their caregiving responsibilities.
Stress is common for those balancing caregiving and their job. If left untreated, chronic stress can develop into serious health problems and increase the risk of substantial health care costs.
The Caregiver Action Network suggests the following tips to help family caregivers:
AARP also recommends making individual care a top priority. Adults who care for their parents should eat well, get enough sleep, and exercise. Mental health services and yoga or meditation classes are helpful in reducing stress. Joining a support group for other adult caregivers can also help.