The Alzheimer’s Association has published its 2016 Facts and Figures (downloadable by clicking here), including a Special Report on the Personal Financial Impact of Alzheimer’s Disease on Families. The results may not surprise those who are caregivers to a person with Alzheimer’s, but they may serve as a wake-up call to others.
The survey demonstrates that considerable personal expense goes hand-in-hand with dementia caregiving. The average “care contributor” spent $5,155 of their own money to take care of a person with Alzheimer’s. But there’s wide variation; some people spent less than $1,000, while some others contributed more than $100,000.
Perhaps not surprisingly, those who have a spouse or partner with dementia had the highest average expenditure, more than $12,000. Adult children averaged $4800, but 16% of adult children spent at least $10,000.
But the sheer out-of-pocket expense is not the only factor. 48% of respondents stated that their need to expend money on care caused them to cut back on their own spending. Some 20% said they had dipped into their own retirement savings in order to find money for this special care. And 13% reported selling personal assets in order to better finance their caregiving responsibilities.
Although they are doing everything possible to provide excellent care for their loved ones, not all are keeping up with caring for themselves. Some 20% reduced their own doctor visits, and 11% reduced the medications that they themselves are prescribed. And the survey respondents are 28% more likely than someone who is not providing care to report that they ate less or were hungry due to insufficient funds to obtain proper meals.
Finally, as has been widely reported, caregiving has an impact on the employment of the caregiver. Of those Alzheimer’s caregivers surveyed, some (about 35%) lost an average of $15,194 per year due to having to reduce the amount of time worked. In contrast, about 14% worked more hours, and 9% worked additional jobs in order to afford the care that they were supplying.
The new report demonstrates again that caregiving of any kind can create financial difficulties for the caregivers. More must be done to ensure that home caregivers can continue to provide the incredible care they offer without jeopardizing their own health and future.