Blog Home > Blog > The Costs of Caregiving: How They Affect Families and Where to Find Help

Becoming a family caregiver requires an incredible amount of sacrifice. Sacrifices of your time, energy, other responsibilities, and money. In parts of California, the costs of professional care/assisted living facilities can be prohibitive (averaging between about $3,200 to $5,900 per month depending on the region). Instead, many families choose to absorb care responsibilities. While this route is a more affordable option for most families, that doesn’t mean it’s free. The costs of caregiving average over $7,000 out of pocket annually. In this article, we’re going to break down some of the common costs of caregiving and offer ways to find financial relief.

How do these costs affect caregiving families?

According to AARP, family caregivers spend around a quarter of their entire income (26%) on care activities. For low-income families, these costs are incredibly significant. But this doesn’t show the whole picture.

While out-of-pocket costs average over $7,000 spent on care activities, there are additional considerations that add context (according to the same study).

  • For employed caregivers that have to take off work and provide care, losses are over $10,000 annually on average.
  • Gen X caregivers spend more than other age brackets, with an average of over $8,500 spent annually.
  • Millennial and Gen Z caregivers spend less than Gen Z – an average of $7,400 annually – but feel a bigger financial strain as they haven’t had as much time in the workforce to accrue financial security.
  • As inflation and costs go up for basic necessities, we can expect these average cost amounts to increase.
  • Caregivers of color experience a higher amount of financial strain due to care. “Hispanic/Latino and African American caregivers experience higher financial strain than White and Asian American caregivers.”
  • Costs are higher for more intensive care situations. For example, caring for 10+ hours per week ($8,603), helping with activities of daily living ($8,811), and/or caring for someone with a form of dementia ($8,978).

How is this money spent?

No two caregiving situations are the same, but the biggest categories for care costs include:

  • 30% of the average costs are for rent or mortgage payments on behalf of the care recipient.
  • 21% goes to modifications made to the home to make it safer and/or more livable for the care recipient. This includes things like adding ramps, securing cords and other tripping hazards, adding railing, changing a shower or tub to a low-mobility friendly setup, etc.
  • 7% on average gets spent on assisted living (i.e., employing the help of a professional part-time).
  • 17% gets spent on medical costs including things like hospital visits, copays, medical devices/equipment, medications, etc.
  • 15% was the average spent on personal expenses for the caregiver (such as gas to get to and from the care recipient, respite care, etc.)
  • The rest varies by family, but is typically spent on things like legal advice, education for the caregiver, recreation/leisure, etc.

How can I get help with the costs of caregiving in California?

The costs of caregiving are significant. Any family providing full or part-time care can feel the financial strains of the role. While the state of California has a lot of programs and protections for caregivers and their loved ones when compared to most other states, these are still insufficient in many ways to meet the needs of caregivers. But with that said, there are places you can look to find relief, such as grants, insurance, reimbursements, employment leave, volunteers, and more. Here are a few ideas for where to look:

General Costs

Local community resources such as churches and volunteer organizations (like Meals on Wheels) often offer assistance for specific purposes like reduced meal costs, reduced/free labor to modify a home for a senior, garden tending, transportation, home cleaning, etc. The best way to find these resources is to join a local support group or talk to your loved one’s doctor/care team. Both can be significant sources of information relevant to your loved one and the local community.

Reimbursements and Care Assistance

Government resources offer ways to get reimbursed for time spent providing care through a few creative options. Click here to read more about how to get paid to be a caregiver using the government resources and programs that may be available to you.

Wage Reimbursements and Paid Leave

The state of California has a range of laws that offer partial wage reimbursement and protected leaves of absences for eligible employed persons. Click here to learn more about the California laws for employed caregivers and how to apply for these benefits with your employer.

Veteran Care Programs

If the loved one in your care is a veteran of the US military, there are additional programs and grants available to you. Contact your local Veterans Service Office to get help navigating veterans’ benefits and eligibility. The National Association of County Veteran Service Officers (NACVSO) has an online locator that will direct you to your County Veteran Service Office or the Department of Veteran Affairs.

Closing Thoughts

If you’re providing care to a loved one, we hope you found some information that will help you feel a little less alone if you are struggling with the financial burdens of care. To get more information about compensation or other resources available to California caregivers, contact us at the California Caregiver Resource Center nearest to you or join CareNav today.

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