Do you have caregivers and don’t realize it?

How's that Home Assistance Working Out for You?

Compliments of Andrew Rafal 

According to a Pew Research study, 4 out of 10 U.S. adults now care for a sick or elderly family member, and nearly half of adults expect to care for an elderly parent or relative at some point. In fact, the number of caregivers increased by 10 percent from 2010 to 2013.2 

You may not even know that your son, daughter or grandchild qualifies as an official "caregiver." But ask yourself, does your daughter run to the grocery store for you, bring you dishes she's cooked for her family and wash dishes or fold your laundry whenever she drops by? Does your son remind you to make medical appointments and drive you to the doctor or drugstore when you need a prescription filled? Does your collegiate granddaughter drop by once a week just to say hi (and peek at your mail to see if you're paying bills)? 

Well yes, these are examples of thoughtful, caring family members. But these are also examples of what family caregivers do regularly all over the country. As you age, you may not even realize that you come to rely on these small, periodic acts of kindness - and get a little annoyed when they don't happen often enough. 

It seems a rite of passage for older adults to begin relying on their adult children to help them as they age. However, recognize that as your needs encroach more and more on their time, it can also impact your children's lives. In fact, Genworth's "2014 Cost of Care Survey" revealed that3:

  • One-third of caregivers provided 30 or more hours of care per week; the average weekly time requirement is 21 hours.
  • 65% of caregivers missed work, ranging from working less and being late or absent to losing jobs or having to change career paths altogether.
  • 46% said that providing care impacted their personal health and well-being and 34% indicated a negative impact on their family in general.
  • 58% reported cutting into discretionary spending, including eating out and/or buying new clothes or a new car, because of their care-related responsibility.

To put these insights into perspective, consider what your life was like when you were the age of your children now, and whether you had the same parental responsibilities and how well you handled - or would've handled - them back then. 

Consider the time your family members may be dedicating to making sure you're doing fine, and whether or not you want them to experience any adverse impacts in their job or lifestyle on your behalf. It may be worth looking into other caregiving options on your own to relieve some of the responsibilities your children may have assumed - to ensure that the time you spend with your family now is truly quality time. 

Recent innovations and practices to help older Americans live more independently include:

  • Personal medical alert systems to summon help quickly should you fall or need medical attention
  • Video monitoring that allows your family to check in on you via the Internet
  • Smartphone apps with alarm clocks and calendar reminders for medications and appointments
  • Hiring a home design specialist to retrofit your home for improved mobility and safety
  • Looking into public transportation or personal driver services
  • Hiring a handy man to clean your gutters, replace light bulbs and other basic tasks
  • Walking or engaging in some type of low-impact exercise every day to help you stay active and nimble

Not only could incorporating some of these ideas into your life help you become less dependent on others, but they can help provide peace of mind to your family members. One of the greatest concerns for family caregivers is that they don't think their parents fully understand or appreciate their own limitations - and therefore take unnecessary risks. By taking the initiative to incorporate a few fail-safe systems, you can convey that you do understand and want to relieve some of the mental stress that comes with looking after a family member. You, as a parent yourself, can certainly recognize the value in that. 

After all, even adult family caregivers can still use help and appreciation from their parents.

The information and opinions contained herein are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. They are given for informational purposes only and are not a solicitation to buy or sell the products mentioned. The information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual's situation. 

If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference. 

By contacting us, you may be provided with information regarding the purchase of insurance products.

1 Merrill Lynch, "The End of Old," accessed on May 28, 2014 at
2 Huffington Post, "Caregivers: Two-Fifths of U.S. Adults Care
for Sick, Elderly Relatives," June 20, 2013;
3 Genworth Financial, "2014 Cost of Care Survey," March 25, 2014;
4, "Retirement Plans FAQs Regarding Required Minimum
Distributions," April 24, 2014;