Caregiving Is Hard — and Often Unpaid. These 5 Tips Can Make It Easier

adult daughter embracing smiling senior mother sitting on sofa
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When someone requires assistance with daily living or medical tasks, family members are often the first people to step in and help.

The National Alliance for Caregiving estimates around 43.5 million caregivers are providing unpaid care for an adult or child with special needs. The combined value of the care they provide adds up to around $470 billion.

But that figure doesn’t account for the mental, physical and emotional strain of being a caregiver, or the financial impact it has on families.

Work-life balance is also a challenge.

A recent survey by estate settlement service Legacy Navigator reveals that 68% of caregivers also work full time. Unfortunately, trying to work and provide care causes some people to quit their jobs altogether.

But that creates another set of problems.

“Leaving a job to take on more caregiving responsibilities not only puts pressure on the day-to-day consequences of individuals and their families, it can also have longer-term consequences for the family caregiver’s financial security,” says AARP.

November Is National Caregivers Month

In 2012, President Barack Obama proclaimed November National Family Caregivers Month.

“Family members, friends, and neighbors devote countless hours to providing care to their relatives or loved ones. During National Family Caregivers Month, we recognize and thank the humble heroes who do so much to keep our families and communities strong,” Obama said.

Being a caregiver is difficult, but these five tips may help.

  • Consider taking some freelance jobs to work on during slower periods.
  • Remember that if the caregiving strategy you have in place isn’t working, it’s OK to change plans and find another way to make things work.

Lisa McGreevy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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