Handle With Care

Blacks are in weakest position to provide home care

African American caregivers are more likely than other groups to experience financial hardship as a result of home caregiving, reports Caregiving in the U.S.

The April 2004 report by the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and AARP finds that 36% of black caregivers — defined as people taking care of an elderly parent or relative — spend $101 to $500 on their care recipient in a typical month. This is to cover, among other costs, groceries, transportation, and prescription medications. Although blacks spend less per week on caregiving than other groups, they earn less than the white, Asian American, and Hispanic caregivers surveyed. Only 33% of blacks report a household income of $50,000 or more. At that income level, the other groups are 42%, 53%, and 37%, respectively.

“It’s almost impossible to save enough money,” says Gail Gibson Hunt, president and CEO of NAC. “In New York City, long-term care could cost $100,000 a year.”

On average, home caregivers experience a loss of $659,139 over the total time period they’re caring for a loved one, according to The MetLife Juggling Act Study by NAC and the National Center on Women and Aging at Brandeis University. This includes lost wages ($566,443) and decreased Social Security ($25,494) and pension benefits ($67,202).

In Caregiving, black respondents said they spend nine to 20 hours a week providing care. Twenty-two percent of black caregivers (compared to 10% of whites) report that caregiving is a financial hardship. Also, caregivers limit or reduce their contributions to IRAs, savings, and investments as a result of the financial responsibilities of caregiving. (For more information on the cost of long-term care, see “A Cure for Health Concerns” in the November 2004 issue of BE.)

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