How Much Will a Paid Caregiver Cost for My Aging Parents?

If you’re overwhelmed with caregiving responsibilities, hiring a paid care provider to help you with your aging parents or ill family member may be the answer. Sarah Ban Breathnach kicks off this information on how much paid caregivers cost with a “burnout talk”…

“Burnout is a condition caused by unbalance: too much work or responsibility, too little time to do it,” writes Ban Breathnach in Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort of Joy (one of my favorite books!). “Often we think that burnout is something that happens to other women – workaholics and perfectionists. But care-aholics are also at risk…”

If you’re a caregiver of an ill or elderly parent or loved one, you might find Always on Call: When Illness Turns Families into Caregivers both informative and inspirational. And, here’s some basic information on the cost of care providers…

How Much Will a Paid Caregiver for My Aging Parents Cost?

“My husband was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at age 44 and died at home peacefully at 57,” says Lynn Longmuir, Certified Reflexologist and author of Peace of Mind: Care for the Caregiver. “He needed care 24/7 for the last three years of his life. I was his primary caregiver around the clock – I was his age and, luckily, in good health physically and mentally. But looking back, I realize the emotional toll it took. Was it worth it? Yes. I would do it again in a minute if I had to.”

Longmuir says she’s fortunate because she worked from home and was able to juggle her schedule to care for her husband herself. Plus, her friends helped out.

In contrast, Betty Garrett needed to hire a caregiver or care provider when her husband’s health deteriorated. “He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2003 and lost his courageous battle a year later,” says this author of From Hiccups to Hospice: A Survival Guide for the Cancer Caregiver. “I lacked the expertise to handle his medical needs.” Garrett founded Caregivers 4 Cancer after her husband died.

If you think you’re burning out as a caregiver but aren’t sure, you might find 5 Signs of Caregiver Burnout – Barbra Streisand helpful.

The Cost of a Paid Caregiver or Care Provider

Different levels of support have different pricetags. “Simple companionship includes activities such as sitting with, talking, going to the park or museum, and sharing lunch,” says Brenda Avadian, founder of The Caregivers Voice. “This can run as low $10-$12 an hour plus expenses, and may be arranged informally with friends.” Avadian says higher levels of care, such as regular bathing and administration of medication, can cost double that or more. For information on hiring a paid caregiver, read Move Over Hired Help is Here.

The annual cost ranges widely. Wendy Johnstone, an Eldercare Planner with the Caregivers Association of BC says caregiving costs can range from $5,000 to $50,000 per year. “The Investors Group recently surveyed 500 Canadians between the ages of 43 and 63, and found that 40% of all caregivers paid an average of $6,000 per year for caregiving help,” she says. “Additionally, a recent study by BMO Financial Group found that only 7% of Boomers asked for advice on budgeting for their aging parents’ care.”

We have a caregiving crisis, she says, and it’s not on the radar screen. “It’s simmering on the back burner, when it should be on the front burner setting off the smoke alarm.”

To prepare for caregiving costs, make sure you’re taking charge of your money as soon as possible – before a financial crisis hits your home.

Tax Credits and Help for Caregiving Costs

Canadian tax credits. Johnstone lists the tax credits that may be used by caregivers: the Caregiver Tax Credit, the Disability Tax Credit, the Eligible Dependent Tax Credit, and the Medical Expenses Tax Credit. Collectively, these tax credits can amount to as much as $10,000 (though few caregivers are eligible for the full amount). She recommends talking to an accountant about possible tax deductions.

Employment Insurance Compassionate Care Benefits. These benefits are available to employed family members caring for a gravely ill relative at risk of dying within 26 weeks. “These benefits are offered through Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC),” says Johnstone. “If you are currently working full-time with employee benefits, talk to your Human Resources Department. You may be entitled to benefits that help you find the right services.” For more information, visit Employment Insurance Compassionate Care.

Veteran Affairs Canada (VAC). This service offers a diverse set of programs and services to veterans and other eligible clients. Aids to Daily Living is a program that assists clients with the purchase of prosthetic and orthotic devices, walkers, canes, wheelchairs, etc. Go to Veterans Affairs Canada to learn more.

“Financial help for care costs vary widely from province to province,” says Alex Handyside, a Certified Senior Advisor and the owner of ScotiaCare Homecare & Caregivers Inc. “For instance, Nova Scotia recently introduced a $400 per month allowance to qualified family caregivers who provide more than 20 hours per week of care to a qualified low-income care recipient.”

Johnstone adds that – unlike having a baby or preparing for a marathon – caregiving often happens with no warning, leaving families unprepared financially, physically, or emotionally.

If you have any thoughts or questions on caregiving – or the cost of care providers – please comment below…

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