The High Cost Of Caregiving: Millions Of Texans Spend Over $7,000 A Year Helping Aging Loved Ones
With Baby Boomers getting older, a growing number of Texans are taking on roles as caregivers for aging relatives.
They’re taking parents to doctor’s appointments, making sure an aunt’s house gets cleaned and even doing medical tasks for a spouse.
This unpaid labor can be rewarding, but also physically and emotionally exhausting. It can also be expensive.
“What this research found is that family caregivers are actually spending a lot of money out of their own pockets to care for their loved ones, and that for certain groups, that’s starting to take a toll on them financially,” said Amanda Fredrickson, associate state director for the AARP of Texas.
About 3 in 4 caregivers spent their own money to take care of a relative, the AARP researchers found.
The biggest expense was housing, including rent, mortgage or assisted living bills, as well as home modifications like installing a wheelchair ramp or grab bars. Medical care was the second highest out-of-pocket expense.
On average, caregivers reported spending a quarter of their income on caregiving.
For Black and Latino families, the financial strain is even greater: More than a third of income for Black caregivers, and almost half of income for Latino caregivers.
That’s despite lower average spending compared to white and Asian American caregivers, likely due to the persistent racial wage gap in the U.S. Black and Latino workers consistently earn less for their labor than whites, even when they do similar work.
The costs were more burdensome for younger caregivers, as well. Fredrickson said that is likely hampering their own ability to save for retirement.
“Gen X caregivers spent the most money, over $8,000 on average,” Fredrickson said. “Gen Z and Millennials are feeling the greatest strain. They’re spending a bigger share of their household income.”
Caregivers for people with Alzheimer's disease or dementia, or who have mental health issues, reported spending more than those caring for people who have other conditions.
Women are more likely to be caregivers for loved ones, but men are increasingly taking on caregiving responsibilities, according to Fredrickson.
The report found that Latina and Asian American women reported significantly more financial strain than Latino and Asian American men. There was less gender disparity among Black and white caregivers.
The out-of-pocket expenses in the report don’t include wages lost when caregivers take time off from paid work to meet the needs of a loved one.
Most caregivers also work outside the home, and about a third spend more than 20 hours a week providing unpaid care.
The AARP is advocating for federal legislation that would create a tax credit to help most caregivers.
The Credit for Caring Act was introduced in the Senate with bipartisan support, and would offer a non-refundable tax credit up to $5,000 for individual caregivers who earn between $7,500 and $75,000 per year.
Got a tip? Christopher Connelly is KERA's One Crisis Away Reporter, exploring life on the financial edge. Email Christopher at firstname.lastname@example.org.You can follow Christopher on Twitter @hithisischris.
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