Adult caregivers face growing financial and emotional costs

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Almost 10 million adults over the age of 50 are becoming caregivers for their own parents, resulting in a loss of $3 trillion in wages, pension and Social Security benefits for time taken off from work, according to a new study.

A team of investigators from the MetLife Mature Market Institute, the National Alliance for Caregiving, and the Center for Long Term Care Research and Policy at New York Medical College analyzed data from the Health and Retirement Study. It is conducted biannually by the University of Michigan and the National Institute on Aging. Female caregivers are the hardest hit, study authors reported. Their average losses are equivalent to a total of $324,044, compared to average losses for men of $283,716, according to researchers.

It's not just caregivers' pocketbooks that suffer. Adult caregivers over 50 are more likely to suffer from fair to poor health than noncaregivers, the study results say. Additionally, caregiving sons and daughters provide parents with comparable care, although daughters are more likely to offer basic care while caregiving men often provide financial assistance. 

“Assessing the long-term financial impact of caregiving for aging parents on caregivers themselves, especially those who must curtail their working careers to do so, is especially important since it can jeopardize their future financial security,” said Sandra Timmermann, Ed.D., director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute. MetLife announced late last year that it would be exiting the long-term care insurance market.

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