Senior Housing Connection

Adult Children Spend Trillions on Caregiving

Monday, June 27, 2011

10 million adult children over the age of 50 care for their aging parents.

These family caregivers, who are themselves aging, are caring providing care while also trying to plan and save for their own retirement.

MetLife Mature Market Institute along with the National Alliance for Caregiving and the Center for Long Term Care Reasearch and Policy conducted a study: TheMetLife Study of Caregiving Costs to Working Caregivers: Double Jeopardy forBaby Boomers Caring for Their Parents.  The study determines the extent to which older adult children provide care to their parents, the roles gender and work play in that caregiving, and the potential cost to the caregiver in lost wages and future retirement income as a result of their support.

Key Findings

  • The percentage of adult children providing personal care and/or financial assistance to a parent has more than tripled over the past 15 years. Currently, a quarter of adult children, mainly Baby Boomers, provide these types of care to a parent.
  • The total estimated aggregate lost wages, pension, and Social Security benefits of these caregivers of parents is nearly $3 trillion.
  • For women, the total individual amount of lost wages due to leaving the labor force early because of caregiving responsibilities equals $142,693. The estimated impact of caregiving on lost Social Security benefits is $131,351. A very conservative estimated impact on pensions is approximately $50,000. Thus, in total, the cost impact of caregiving on the individual female caregiver in terms of lost wages and Social Security benefits equals $324,044.
  • For men, the total individual amount of lost wages due to leaving the labor force early because of caregiving responsibilities equals $89,107. The estimated impact of caregiving on lost Social Security benefits is $144,609. Adding in a conservative estimate of the impact on pensions at $50,000, the total impact equals $283,716 for men, or $303,880 for the average male or female caregiver 50+ who cares for a parent.
  • Working and non-working adult children are almost equally as likely to provide care to parents in need.
  • Overall, caregiving sons and daughters provide comparable care in many respects, but daughters are more likely to provide basic care and sons are more likely to provide financial assistance.
  • Adult children 50+ who work and provide care to a parent are more likely to have fair or poor health than those who do not provide care to their parents. 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.  There is also evidence that caregivers experience considerable health issues as a result of their focus on caring for others. The need for flexibility in the workplace and in policies that would benefit working caregivers are likely to increase in importance as more working caregivers approach their own retirement while still caring for an aging parent.
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