The emotional, psychological and financial costs of family caregiving for a loved one at home can be much higher than many anticipate.
It’s a hard decision when it’s about the people who made your lunches and picked you up from school. They took you to practice and helped you decide your future. They didn’t just take care of you. They loved you.
Now they are getting older and you want to take care of them. Often families feel the care that loved ones receive at home is the best, but this isn’t always true.
What are the costs of family caregiving?
While it’s understood that care for elderly loved ones can be expensive, often family members decide to provide care at home without fully understanding the total costs associated with such a decision.
How does a family decide the best arrangement for a loved one?
Taking a comprehensive examination of the expenses and benefits of home care should be part of the decision-making process when determining the costs of family caregiving.
When a family is caring for a loved one there is an inevitable shift in responsibilities. Often this means a change in career trajectory. Using sick, personal, or vacation time to care for a loved one and having less flexibility at work can mean less career advancement.
When caregiving affects your work, it can lead to career stagnation or leaving the workforce altogether. The loss in advancement or complete loss of income can be difficult to recover from.
Combining households with a senior who previously lived independently results in expanded expenditures. This can mean increased utility bills, higher grocery expenses, and increased household wear and tear.
The home will also likely need safety modifications made to it to optimize your senior loved one’s living experience and daily functions. This could include adding safety rails, non-slip flooring, bathroom modifications, wheelchair ramps, and even changes to your lighting and security.
The increased costs associated with major renovations to areas such as entryways, kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms can be an unexpected challenge.
When you are considering medical expenses, perhaps you think first of medication, and that alone can be a somewhat surprising cost. However, the investment associated with specialized equipment, hiring and training personnel to assist or provide medical care yourself are factors that should be considered as well.
Loss of Savings
A further aspect of the financial changes that can happen is dipping into savings to subsidize care. This is a common occurrence when a family member decides to leave the workforce to care for a loved one. The financial burden involves taking money for tomorrow to try and cover today’s costs.
Time and energy devoted to caring for a loved one at home means that it is more likely the caregiver will have less time for other family or friends. The attention that is given to an elderly parent means that it is less likely you’ll be able to spend that time with grandchildren, traveling, or being able to just run out for a cup of coffee or lunch with a friend without arranging for someone else to care for your loved one.
The stress both financial and psychological, as well as the emotional and physical fatigue of caregiving, can often lead to caregiver burnout. The toll of being a caregiver can lead to isolation and depression. Often caregivers are caught between the needs of elderly parents and their own children they are still trying to help.
These aspects as well as other considerations can lead many caregivers to seek an alternative to at-home care that provides benefits to senior loved ones as well as the caregiver.
The Benefits of Assisted Living
Assisted living is not always the first option a family considers when deciding on the next steps for a loved one but there are many beneficial aspects of assisted living not just for your senior loved one but also for the caregivers.
Financing the Best and Most Expert Care
If your senior loved one is starting to need regular care, financing specialized care could in the long term be the best option for everyone. Having optimized care for your loved one when they need it, instead of having to cut hours and opportunities from your career or hiring individual resources means that you’ll be able to financially protect not only your loved one but yourself as well.
Immediate Response to Care Needs
A major advantage of assisted living is the ability to adapt to changes in care needs. Sometimes the changes in loved ones are gradual but other times the change happens quickly or is the result of a health event.
If your loved one is already in assisted living the care they are being provided can shift to match their needs as soon and as quickly as they need. Especially in the case of memory care, being able to stay on the same campus with familiar surroundings means there will be even less shift in their environment and routines, allowing them to more comfortably age in place.
Dignity and Independence
When your senior loved one is in assisted living they can still maintain a level of independence and dignity that becomes more and more difficult to maintain with at-home care. Loved ones may be less likely to ask for assistance when they need it because they worry or feel guilty about being a burden.
The time and attention that you have with your loved one is precious. Having that time spent as quality time instead of running to appointments, providing physical caretaking and basic chores means that you would actually be able to enjoy the time you spend with your loved one.
Determining Next Steps
Deciding what the best way to care for a loved one is a complicated decision. Understanding the costs associated with caring for a loved one takes time, planning, and patience.
The Kensington Reston is a newly opened community with state-of-the-art grounds and a dedicated team that not only works together to provide professional care, but promises to love and care for your family, as we do our own.
If you are trying to decide the next best steps in determining the level of care your loved one needs contact The Kensington Reston to meet with our team and schedule a tour of our assisted living community.