Out-of-Pocket Costs in Caring for an Aging Loved One

(7/9/11)- According to a research report from the U.S. Health and Retirement Study, a bank of economic and health data on people over the age of 50 analyzed by the University of Michigan, the number of adult children taking care of their parents has tripled between 1994 and 2008 to 10 million people.

The study was done on 1,112 people age 50-plus with at least one living parent.

The financial toll was on average $303,880 per person when you include lost wages, pensions and Social Security benefits over the lifetime of the caregiver, due to leaving the workforce early to tend to the parent.

Another study from MetLife and the National Alliance for Caregiving and the New York Medical College's Center for Long-Term Care Research and Policy found that depression, hypertension and pulmonary disease were among caregivers' more common health problems.

(12/5/07)- According to the nation's first in-depth study of the out-of-pocket costs for caring for an aging loved one averages about $5,500 a year. This amount is about double what previous estimates had given for these costs.

If you add on to this figure many of the other expenses such as groceries, household goods, drugs, medical co-payments and transportation, this would bring the figure up to $8,728 a year.

There is of course no way to figure into this equation the time, energy and heart aches involved in this matter, but anyway you look at it, it is costly both financially, physically and emotionally.

The survey on which these numbers is based was conducted by the National Alliance for Caregivers, a research and policy organization, and Evercare, a division of UnitedHealth Group, the health care insurer that also coordinates long-term care for 150,000 clients.

The findings came from a telephone survey of about 1,000 adults caring for someone over the age of 50 who needed help with activities such as bathing, using the toilet, preparing meals, shopping or managing finances. It builds on an earlier survey that was done by the National Alliance in 2004. It is estimated that there are about 34 million Americans who fall within this grouping.

The 2004 survey concluded that the out-of-pocket cost came to about $2,400 a year. The new survey had 29 questions devoted to the out-of-pocket costs that the caregiver incurred in helping a loved one.

Of the 1,000 respondents, only 2% said they had never laid out any money. The burden was heavier for those who earned less, 20% for those who earned less than $25,000 versus the 10% for the average individual questioned.


By Allan Rubin
updated July 9, 2011

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