Family caregivers are the backbone of long-term care for many aging seniors in the United States. While it can save you money compared to other forms of long-term care, the job of caregiver comes a lot of responsibility. When deciding if becoming a caregiver is the best option for you and your loved one consider the following:
- Can you make the time commitment?
- Can you make the financial commitment?
- Can you handle personal care tasks for your loved one?
- Do you have a support system?
Can You Make the Time Commitment?
Did you know that family caregivers spend an average of up to 24 hours per week on care? If you are working full time, it may require taking time off to fulfill your caregiver responsibilities. Average time spent on caregiving doubles to around 44 hours per week if you are caring for your spouse or partner. Can you take time off of work in order to care for your loved one? 6 in 10 caregivers say they need to make workplace accommodations—cutting hours, taking a leave of absence, receiving a warning about performance or attendance, etc. Also consider how this time commitment with impact your family.
Can You Make the Financial Commitment?
Depending on the needs of the person you are caring for, caregiving can be an expensive undertaking (read more on the True Cost of Caregiving). Make sure to take the time to reflect on your own financial situation.
Can You Handle Personal Care Tasks for Your Loved One?
Caring for your loved one can be manageable in the beginning. However, their care needs may increase as time goes on. For example, later stages of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease causes individuals to lose more of their independence and ability to take care of themselves. Even if they don't have a chronic condition, as seniors age, they may lose the ability to perform their activities of daily living—routine activities we do every day like bathing, dressing, feeding, grooming, and toileting. 40% of family caregivers find personal care to be the most difficult part of their caregiving responsibilities (source). Many families opt to hire a professional caregiver if their loved one’s care needs exceed what they can handle on their own.
Do You Have a Support System?
It’s important to identify those around you that would be willing to help with Caregiving activities. Which family members and friends would be willing to help?
In addition to family and friends, there may be senior services in your local community such as transportation and day care. Respite care is also provided by volunteer organizations such as the Senior Corps and the National Volunteer Caregiving Network. In addition, you can reach out to support staff at the hospital who are in charge of your loved one’s case or discharge planning. Families who reach out to these essential support staff can have a guide help them through the difficult journey of caregiving.
Having a support system available to you can help reduce your chances of experiencing caregiver burnout. Think about it: how can you give your loved one the best care possible if you’re not at your best?
When to Consider Professional Help
When the going gets tough or when your loved one’s care needs exceed what you can handle, you may need to hire a professional. Many families resort to hiring a caregiver from a home care agency—which can cost thousands and thousands of dollars each year. Costs generally range anywhere from $20-24 per hour depending on where your loved one lives.
With eCaregivers, you can work directly with private caregivers to find affordable home care near you. Many of the caregivers on eCaregivers charge rates much lower than an agency—allowing your loved one to receive the most amount of care for less. You can sign up for your free 7 day trial here.
Reviewing Your Options
We recommend that you take a look at the current state of your finances and prepare all necessary financial and legal documents for seniors before making a decision. Consider the impact of being a family caregiver will have on work and your social life. See who is in your village for respite care to prevent caregiver burnout. Often times, families may choose to care for their loved one until their level of care exceeds what they can handle. What has worked for you? Let us know!