November is not just about falling leaves and Thanksgiving feasts, it’s also a month of gratitude and reflection – so what better time to celebrate National Family Caregivers Month!
National Family Caregivers Month recognizes and appreciates the unsung heroes who selflessly provide care to loved ones. A time to honor those who dedicate themselves to caring, this celebration recognizes family caregivers as the pillars of support for family members or friends who need assistance due to aging, illness, or disability. Caregivers devote their time, energy, resources, and love to ensure the well-being and comfort of those they care for. They wear many hats, from medical advocate to emotional support, and often face physical, emotional, and financial challenges.
The Significance of Family Caregiving
Family caregiving is a labor of love. Caregivers provide essential support to those who may need assistance with daily activities, medical care, emotional support, and companionship. Their role goes far beyond mere physical care; they also contribute to emotional and mental well-being by fostering meaningful connections and ensuring safety in and outside of the home.
According to a 2020 AARP report on caregiving, nearly 20% of Americans provide unpaid care to an adult with health or functional needs.On top of that, according to the same study, 21% of family caregivers reported having health concerns of their own and a whopping 61% held jobs.1 The stats are eye-opening to say the least, and it’s no wonder our country is facing a caregiver burnout crisis.
Recognizing and appreciating the significant role caregivers play is not only essential, but also an opportunity to offer them the support they need in return for their tireless efforts. National Family Caregivers Month serves as a reminder to express our gratitude and explore ways to make caregiving more sustainable. This offers us the perfect opportunity to recognize the difficulties they may face and explore innovative ways to support their invaluable efforts.
Challenges Faced by Family Caregivers
It’s no secret that caregiving of any kind is not without its challenges. Family caregivers face a tough job, often in addition to full-time jobs elsewhere, which can lead to various difficulties:
- Physical and emotional strain: In addition to dealing with any existing health issues of their own, caregivers face a physically demanding job, with tasks such as lifting, bathing, and transferring. Additionally, caregivers may experience emotional stress as they witness the decline in their loved one’s health. Over 20% of caregivers report that caregiving has made their own health worse.1
- Time commitment: Caregiving is often a full-time responsibility, leaving little time for personal pursuits, which can lead to burnout. And with so many caregivers – over 60%1 – working jobs in addition to their caregiving responsibilities, some are left with no opportunities to relax and unwind.
- Lack of recognition: Sometimes referred to as “invisible,” family caregivers often go unnoticed and unappreciated, which can be emotionally taxing. The lack of recognition for family caregivers can be attributed to various factors, including a societal expectation that caregiving is a familial duty and therefore not deserving of acknowledgment.2 This oversight can lead to feelings of isolation, stress, and burnout among caregivers.
- Balancing life: Work-life balance is important to everyone. But finding a balance between caregiving, personal life, and potentially a full- or part-time job in addition, can be a constant struggle for caregivers.
- Financial strain: Medicare doesn’t cover long-term care, so many of those in need of care cannot afford to hire help. As a result, family caregivers’ financial and career prospects can be negatively impacted, as they may have to reduce their working hours or leave their jobs entirely to provide care, all while not receiving monetary compensation for the care they provide.
Expressing Gratitude During Family Caregivers Month
It’s clear that, as a society, we don’t give family caregivers the recognition they deserve for the sacrifices they make. With this in mind, if you know or have a caregiver, this season is an excellent reminder that there are ways we can express our gratitude and support for the caregivers who play a crucial role in the lives of so many. Here are a few ways you can give back:
- Personal Thank You: If you know a caregiver, take a moment to personally express your gratitude. A heartfelt thank-you note, a small gift, or even a simple verbal acknowledgment can mean the world to them.
- Volunteer Your Time: Offer to help the caregiver, whether it’s by providing respite care, running errands, or assisting with household chores. Providing support, even in small ways, can make a significant difference.
- Share Stories: Share your positive caregiving stories on social media or in local publications to raise awareness about the importance of caregivers and the challenges they face.
- Support Local Organizations: Support organizations that provide resources, training, and emotional support to caregivers. Donations or volunteer work can have a valuable impact.
- Recognition Programs: Advocate for local or national recognition programs that acknowledge the dedication and hard work of family caregivers.
- Financial Support: If you know a caregiver, and are in the position to do so, consider offering monetary support however you feel comfortable. If you’re a senior and have a caregiver in your own life, there are ways to access the funds you need to compensate them – or even relieve them from duty. For example, a reverse mortgage can be used to turn the equity in your home into cash. Reverse mortgages can provide a financial lifeline for both family-provided and hired homecare options.
Funding Caregiving Expenses with a Reverse Mortgage
Reverse mortgages are unique home loans available to homeowners aged 62 and older, allowing you to convert a portion of your home equity into income tax-free cash. The most popular type of reverse mortgage is the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), which is insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).
Here’s how it works: a reverse mortgage allows you to convert a portion of your home’s equity into cash without having to sell the home or make regular monthly mortgage payments as long as you keep up with your property taxes, insurance, and home maintenance. Unlike a traditional mortgage, where you have to start repaying the loan right away, homeowners do not have to repay funds received until a maturity event occurs, such as after the final borrower no longer lives in the home.
Once you’ve secured a reverse mortgage, you can receive your loan proceeds in a few different ways depending on your unique circumstances, including a lump sum, monthly disbursements, a standby line of credit, or a combination of these.3 And the best part is, you can continue to live in your home,4 maintain ownership, and use the funds for various purposes, including caregiving expenses.
Using a reverse mortgage to pay for home care can be a solution if you’re looking to compensate a family caregiver or hire a homecare professional while aging in place and maintaining your independence. National Family Caregivers Month reminds us of the incredible sacrifices and devotion of caregivers who support their loved ones in times of need. As we express our gratitude to these dedicated individuals, we must also consider the financial challenges they often face. By recognizing the contributions of caregivers and providing them with the support they need, we can show our appreciation for their tireless efforts and dedication.
To learn more about using the power of your home to fund caregiving expenses, look no further than Longbridge Financial, proud member of the National Aging in Place Council. We’re an innovative company committed to responsibly helping homeowners reshape their financial future by educating them on reverse mortgage loans – and helping them unlock the power of their homes. Contact our team today!