The High Costs of Caring

  • Posted on: 27 March 2011
  • By: GreyHawk

This isn't a commentary or diary so much as a kind of long comment that I thought contained a reference worth bringing to the attention of others. From a recent Daily Kos diary,1 the following:

Psychology/Behavior

University of Michigan: Study shows real social costs of caring for cognitively impaired elders
March 22, 2011

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The real social costs of cognitive impairments among the elderly are being greatly underestimated without counting care given to older Americans who have not yet reached the diagnostic threshold for dementia.

That is the central finding of a University of Michigan study published in the current issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The study is based on data from 169 primary family caregivers of individuals with dementia or cognitive impairment. The sample is part of the Aging, Demographics and Memory study, which examined a nationally representative sample of men and women age 70 and older as a supplement to the U-M Health and Retirement Study, funded primarily by the National Institute on Aging.

"We were surprised to learn how much time family members spend caring for loved ones who have some cognitive impairment, but whose impairments are not severe enough to be classified as dementia," said Gwenith Fisher, a psychologist at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR). "These caregivers are dealing with many of the burdens of caring for an older, cognitively impaired family member, but they may not be eligible for much of the help available unless the diagnosis is dementia."

Having lived through this,2 it's good to see that studies are now focusing on the overall costs. The takeaway line that caught my attention?

"These caregivers are dealing with many of the burdens of caring for an older, cognitively impaired family member, but they may not be eligible for much of the help available unless the diagnosis is dementia."

Yes. "Unless" and "Until" - and sometimes even afterward.

The costs of caring can be significant - but, that's part and parcel of what it really means to care, isn't it?3

I don't regret it.

 

Footnote references over the fold.

 

 

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Footnotes

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1  Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Earth Hour 2011 edition), by Neon Vincent

2  References Her Final Year: A Memoir, a commentary about a book project I'm co-authoring with Shadan7. The commentary is available on ePluribus Media and Daily Kos.

3  Related: From the same dKos diary,

University of Wisconsin: Childhood Illnesses Exact High Cost on the Entire Family
March 21, 2011

Madison, Wisconsin - Families whose children have serious health problems spend a much higher percentage of their incomes, averaging nearly $600 more a year on out-of-pocket health care costs than families of healthy children, a new national study reveals.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health found that families of children with activity limitations spent $594.36 more each year on out-of-pocket health care costs than families of healthy children spend.

Children with activity limitations include those who use wheelchairs or who are not able to engage in normal activities because of conditions such as asthma or obesity.

"What is most shocking is that these costs are not only for the child's health care. The costs for everyone in the family increase when a child has a limitation," says Dr. Whitney Witt, the study's lead author and assistant professor in the department of population health sciences. "What we're seeing here is negative spillover on the whole family."