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Tips for Making Caregiving an Easier 24/7 Labor of Love

December 16, 2021

From the Kiplinger website

Caregivers are America’s invisible helpers, giving up everything — often their jobs, retirement savings, even their own health — to care for an ailing or incapacitated family member. A MetLife study found that the average caregiver sacrificed more than $300,000 in lifetime earnings from lost wages, retirement benefits and Social Security. Self-neglect is practically a requirement. “We make sure our loved ones get all the medications and nutrition they need, but often, late at night, we’re the ones going through the drive-thru for dinner,” says Gary Barg, editor of Today’s Caregiver magazine, who along with his siblings cares for his aging mother.

Most caregivers cobble together extra help from other family members, along with paid services like home health aides, and some get help from community services like Meals on Wheels. Once predominantly women, today’s family caregivers are almost equally split, with 55% women and 45% men, Barg says, and they’re not a young group. The average family caregiver is 49 years old, and about a third are 65 and older, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance, a national organization that supports caregivers. Like Perlstein who is raising his now 13-year-old daughter, many caregivers also care for more than one person. Their unpaid labor doesn’t just benefit their families but an entire nation. Or as Barg puts it: “If every family caregiver decided tomorrow to go on a cruise for a year, somehow the system would have to come up with $357 billion to replace what we do out of love.”

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