Nearly 10 million adult children over the age of 50 care for their aging parents.
These family caregivers are themselves aging as well as providing care at a time when they also need to be planning and saving for their own retirement. The MetLife Study of Caregiving Costs to Working Caregivers: Double Jeopardy for Baby Boomers Caring for Their Parents was produced by the MetLife Mature Market Institute in partnership with the National Alliance for Caregiving and the Center for Long Term Care Research and Policy at New York Medical College.
The study analyzes data from the 2008 panel of the National Health and Retirement Study (HRS) combined with estimates to determine 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.
• 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.
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. From the MetLife Study 2011.
The take away from this study is a family caregiver needs to consider the total cost of care when making decisions for what is the best course to follow before quitting a job to provide the care yourself. Steve