Editor's Letter, October 2021


Editor's Letter, October 2021


This year, compensation has been top-of-mind for our nation's family caregivers. "Can a family member get paid to be a caregiver?" and related questions are popular search inquiries on Google, and social media remains an accessible platform where caregivers can connect with one another to discuss their unique financial challenges. Current and former family caregivers seem to be speaking more openly about the devastating financial impacts of their caregiving, including AARP's Amy Goyer who, at the beginning of the year, wrote for the first time about the mounting out-of-pocket costs for her father's care that contributed to her bankruptcy.

This is what inspired us to create our caregiver salary calculator. Our tool not only helps family caregivers put an approximate value on their unpaid care work but also communicates that value to national leadership whose decisions can have a direct impact on funding financial support for caregivers. While we can't change the mechanics of our political system, our organization can and will continue to advocate for you by making sure politicians and the public alike understand the short- and long-term costs you incur while caring for someone else and the financial support. Our hope is that our tool can help bring attention to the need for an organized effort around offsetting care costs and making it more affordable to care for the people we love.

Since February, we've taken our community's feedback into consideration and made several additions to our caregiver salary calculator including:

  • More ranges for hours spent providing care or supervision per week: Our original ranges (less than 30 hours per week; 30-39 hours per week; and 40 or more hour per week) were not comprehensive enough. For some, caregiving is quite literally a 24/7 commitment.
  • New question, Did you cut back your work hours or leave a job because of caregiving?: We realized we were missing a valuable opportunity to collect information on whether or not work has been interrupted due to caregiving.
  • Lost wages and benefits: This new field allows you to account for money you've lost due to caregiving. This figure is added to the invoice that is sent to Senators.

And here's what we've learned about compensation and financial strain from our caregiving community:

  • Of those who responded to a survey we released earlier this year on caregiver compensation, almost half (48 percent) spend 40 hours or a more a week on caregiving responsibilities.
  • In this same survey, the majority of family caregivers who responded don't get paid for caregiving (88 percent).
  • The data we've collected so far from our caregiver salary calculator confirms that the majority of our community spends over 40 hours a week providing care (72 percent).
  • Ninety percent of family caregivers who responded to our financial strain survey reported facing financial strain as a result of their caregiving. Thirty-three percent of those same respondents are unable to maintain a job in addition to their care responsibilities.
  • From our caregiver salary calculator, we've also learned that 58 percent of respondents drive 26 miles or more a month for care-related tasks.
  • The majority of caregiver salary calculator respondents (28 percent) incur out-of-pocket costs of $100-199, which comes to an average of $1,800 per year.

The bottom line: There is value to what you do.

You are seen: The work that you do every day deserves to be recognized and acknowledged by all those around you. From understanding the tasks you complete on a daily basis to helping a family member schedule a doctor's appointment, we see the work that you  do and the impact that it has on others. We will continue to advocate for you and be a support outlet. 

You have value: There’s no price that can be put on caregiving, but it’s important to know how much time and effort you’ve put into caring and loving another person. Family caregiving enables countless children, adults, and older adults to live at home and in their community -- where they want to be. And that is an accomplishment worth celebrating. Caregiving is work. 

You are enough: There are 51+ million caregivers across the United States caring for at least one other person. There is no right way of doing this. Your family’s unique situation has led you to take on a set of responsibilities for which there is no rulebook. You should be proud of yourself for answering the call to care; no one can take that away from you.

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