The Financial Impact of Caregiving

By Barbara Small

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In addition to the emotional and physical impact of caregiving, there can be a tremendous financial impact on both the care recipient and caregiver. This can include:

* The cost of home support services, home nursing care, physiotherapy or other medical care that is not covered by the MSP or subsidized by the Vancouver Island Health Authority. VIHA provides services to help clients stay safely and comfortably in their homes as long as possible. These services are meant to supplement the clients’ efforts to care for themselves with the assistance of family and friends. VIHA conducts a standardized financial assessment to determine extent of eligibility for subsidized care. Home support services can also be purchased through private home support agencies. If 24-hour care is required, some families will hire and pay for a live-in care provider.

* Out-of-pocket expenses for products or equipment purchased for the care recipient’s personal use, such as mobility aids, incontinence supplies, medical alert systems or bathroom safety equipment. These costs will vary dependent on the needs of the care recipient. Some of these items can be borrowed from equipment loan services in the community.

* Adaptations may need to be made to the home where the care recipient is living in order to make it more accessible, such as ramps for wheelchairs, stair lifts or making the bathroom accessible.

* Caregivers may need to purchase other services such as childcare, yard work, or housekeeping in order to free up time for their caregiving responsibilities.

* If the time comes when the care recipient can no longer stay in his or her own home, moving to an assisted living residence or residential care facility may become necessary. Similar to the home support services mentioned above, VIHA will conduct a financial assessment to determine if your family member is eligible for subsidy. If not, private care residences are available. Their monthly cost can range from $1,500 - $5,000 dependent on the amount of care needed and other services provided.

* Almost 70 per cent of family caregivers are employed, and trying to balance the demands of a job and their caregiving responsibilities. This challenge can result in reduced hours, a leave of absence, job loss or early retirement, in order to manage care responsibilities. In some care situations, families are also coping with the loss of the care recipient’s income.

Preparing in advance is important to help mediate the financial impact of caregiving. Some options to explore include critical illness or long-term care insurance, use of RRSPs, reverse mortgages or home equity loans. Regardless of the type of caregiving situation, an effective financial plan needs to consider the many scenarios that might arise and the costs that might be incurred.

The Family Caregivers’ Network, in partnership with Desjardins Financial Security, ElderSafe Support Services and Senior Living Magazine, is offering a free workshop entitled, Longevity and Lifestyle: How Caring for Family Will Impact You and Proactive Solutions to Meet the Challenge, on Oct. 15th. For more details, visit

Next month: Reducing Your Feelings of Guilt




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