Medical expenses, including assisted living, account for 25% of family caregiver costs: survey

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Medical expenses, including assisted living, account for 25% of family caregiver costs: survey
Medical expenses, including assisted living, account for 25% of family caregiver costs: survey

Medical expenses, including costs associated with assisted living and skilled nursing facilities, account for the second-largest share of family caregivers' out-of-pocket spending for their loved ones, according to a new report from the AARP.

Such expenses make up 25% of family caregiver spending, according to the organization's research, which involved a nationally representative sample of 1,864 family caregivers and was conducted in July and August by GfK. Caregivers completed a retrospective survey and a 28-day diary tracking their out-of-pocket expenses related to caregiving.

Average medical expenses for family caregivers totaled $1,722, according to the findings relayed in “Family Caregiving and Out-of-Pocket Costs: 2016 Report.” In addition to the cost of assisted living and nursing homes, medical expenses, as defined by the survey, include costs related to health plan co-pays and insurance premiums; equipment such as wheelchairs, oxygen and cognitive assistance devices; travel to doctor appointments; home healthcare; and therapy and care management.

Of all respondents, 10.4% said their loved one lived in an assisted living community or other residential setting where care is provided, 6.8% said their loved one lived in a nursing or other long-term care facility and 6.5% said their loved one lived in an independent living or retirement community.

Also, 3.7% of respondents said they had paid fees for assisted living or other residential settings, 3% said they had paid nursing home or long-term care facility fees and 2.3% said they had paid fees for independent living or retirement communities.

Household expenses accounted for the largest share, 41%, of family caregiver expenses, the research found. Such expenses, according to the AARP, include costs related to house-cleaning professionals or supplies, food or meal delivery, transportation, remote health and safety monitoring devices, furnishings such as special beds, and relocation so that the family caregiver and family member live closer together. Average household expenses for family caregivers were $2,854.

Additional findings:

  • 78% of family caregivers said they incurred out-of-pocket costs as a result of caregiving. Family caregivers, on average, spent $6,954 annually on out-of-pocket costs related to caregiving in 2016. This amount equates to 20% of the average caregiver's income.
  • 56% of employed family caregivers reported experiencing at least one work-related strain such as needing to work different hours, fewer or more hours or taking time off, whether paid or unpaid.
  • 45% of family caregivers said they have cut back on leisure spending, such as eating out or taking a vacation, as a result of caregiving expenses, and 16% said they have reduced contributions to their retirement savings.
  • Expenses varied by factors such as gender, race, generation of caregiver, income, activities of daily living needs of the care recipient, and distance between caregiver and care recipient.

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