Unpaid family members and friends who care for loved ones want to provide that care, but they sacrifice their own financial, medical and social needs to do it.
This is one of the main findings in a story from Next Avenue from a recent survey conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, with funding from The SCAN Foundation.
As part of ongoing research into public attitudes about long-term health care in the U.S., AP-NORC conducted the poll to learn more about the stresses and burdens caregivers experience as they help their disabled loved ones remain living in their homes and communities. In earlier research, AP-NORC learned that about 40 percent of Americans have experience providing long-term care to an older family member or friend.
The survey conducted in June and July polled 1,024 caregivers living throughout the U.S. and found these are some of the ways caregivers sacrifice to care for their loved ones:
• 25 percent have cut back on their retirement savings
• 41 percent have dipped into their personal savings
• 25 percent spend 40 hours per week caregiving
• 45 percent who have outside jobs use some or all of their vacation time for caregiving
The study also found that caregivers give up fun activities and time with friends and family to take care of loved ones.
“I think people don’t always appreciate how taxing, both physically and emotionally, the job of caregiver can be for individuals,” says Michelle Strollo in a video AP-NORC released with the study findings. Strollo is vice president and associate director of the health care department at NORC at the University of Chicago.
“Caregivers sacrifice their many social relationships, including relationships with their spouses, other friends and family members. And that comes at a cost to them emotionally,” she says.