The Unpaid Caregiver: Blessing or Burden?

young man taking photo with elderly father in wheelchair
Mary Sizemore
Mary Sizemore April 6, 2023

With over 25 years of experience, Mary shares her industry knowledge by helping agents and their clients navigate various insurance products. She also stays up to date on current products and trends to support, mentor, and guide her teammates.

Disclaimer: With Medicaid, VA, and insurance regulations frequently changing, past blog posts may not be presently accurate or relevant. Please contact our office for information on current planning strategies, tips, and how-to's.

Chances are your clients know someone who is currently an unpaid caregiver. As the number of Americans over the age of 65 is expected to nearly double from 52 million in 2018 to 95 million in 2060,¹ family caregivers continue to be a vital piece of the long-term care system in the U.S. In their 2020 survey, AARP found that there are nearly 42 million people in the U.S. providing unpaid care to a loved one over the age of 50.² While some began providing care gradually as their loved one’s health declined, many others were thrust into the caregiving role when an immediate health crisis struck.

Regardless of the circumstances, unpaid caregivers face many challenges, including putting their own health and financial stability at risk.

Who Are Unpaid Caregivers?

In short, anyone could be an unpaid caregiver. Spouses, siblings, and children make up the largest portion of unpaid caregivers in the U.S. Most of them (61%) are women, and the fastest growth of unpaid caregivers is happening amongst younger generations.² Their parents are living longer but also dealing with more chronic diseases and disabilities.

Read More: Is Your Family Prepared to Make Caregiving Decisions?

What Type of Care Do Unpaid Caregivers Provide?

Unpaid caregivers, also known as family caregivers, help by paying bills; providing transportation; assisting with activities of daily living, such as bathing and dressing; supplying wound care; and administering medication. On average, family caregivers spend 23.7 hours per week providing unpaid care.²

Advantages and Disadvantages of Being a Family Caregiver

Caring for a loved one as they age can be very rewarding. Plus, since the average cost of home health care in the U.S. is $5,000/month,³ unpaid family care is likely the most affordable option available to your client. However, it does come at a price to the caregiver. Caregivers often sacrifice their own health as stress mounts from the day-to-day tasks that are required. Additionally, caregivers are taking time away from their own lives, families, and careers, thus affecting their personal well-being, retirement savings, and career advancement opportunities. Caregiving can also create resentment amongst siblings. All in all, being a family caregiver is a double-edged sword that can be both a blessing and a burden.

Read More: The Importance of Creating a Plan for Aging

Is Your Client Prepared for Long-Term Care?

A long-term care crisis can happen gradually with declining health, or it can be sudden. It’s important that your client is prepared for what lies ahead. If you have clients in reasonably good health who have assets to protect, they may want to consider purchasing long-term care insurance (LTCI). In addition to protecting their assets and securing benefits for future care, LTCI enables your client’s family to manage their care rather than be responsible for it 24/7. If your client or their loved one is already receiving care in a facility, they can still protect their assets with crisis planning.

For more information on the long-term care planning options in your state, please contact our office at (800) 255-1932.

¹ Aging in the United States Fact Sheet, Population Reference Bureau, July 2019

² Caregiving in the U.S., AARP & National Alliance for Caregiving, 2020 Report

³ Cost of Care Survey, Genworth, November 2021