Here's an article worth reading from the New York Times: Study Finds Higher Costs for Caregivers of Elderly:
The out-of-pocket cost of caring for an aging parent or spouse averages about $5,500 a year, according to the nation’s first in-depth study of such expenses, a sum that is more than double previous estimates and more than the average American household spends annually on health care and entertainment combined.Here's another interesting aspect:
Family members responsible for ailing loved ones provide not only “hands on” care but often reach into their own pockets to pay for many other expenses of care recipients, including groceries, household goods, drugs, medical co-payments and transportation. That nudges the average cost of providing long-distance care to $8,728 a year.
These caregivers, spending on average 10 percent of their household income, manage the financial burden by taking out loans, skipping vacations, dipping into savings or ignoring their own health care.
That part may not be representative as far as appropriate survey methods are defined, but I wonder if it's closer to the truth than the average from the broader sample? I am a firm believer in keeping records of expenses, and I tend to think that when people estimate their expenses, they end up underestimating them, as it's easy to forget how much you've spent. Either way, these numbers are pretty daunting.
In addition to the telephone part of the survey, the report also includes detailed information and narrative accounts from 41 men and women who were paid $100 to keep expense diaries over the course of a month. This subgroup — not a representative sample because they were self-selected and were paid — reported sharply higher expenses than the telephone respondents.
The diarists spent an average of $12,348 a year — more than double the annual expenses of the larger, randomly selected telephone sample. In addition, the diarists who lived with their older relatives, spent the most — $14,832 a year, followed by $14,064 for long-distance caregivers and $8,496 for those who lived nearby.