When my parents moved in with me, people would always ask me how I balanced it all—caring for them while working and raising a young daughter. I told them it wasn’t about balancing. Instead, it was about making hard choices—and sometimes, sacrifices. Would I take my mother to the doctor or go to my daughter’s soccer game? Would we spend some of our savings helping out my dad, who is living with Alzheimer’s, and put off saving for our own future plans? Balancing went out the window, but at least we managed.
But many caregivers I’ve met across the country aren’t so lucky—even managing becomes impossible when you’re already on unequal financial footing and are facing impossible choices. On top of emotional stress, providing care for a loved one who is sick, aging, or disabled costs a lot: Family caregivers spend, on average, 20 percent of their incomes on care, while some families of color and low-income families spend nearly half. The financial stresses facing low-income families, who are already 54 percent more likely to be caregiving than those with higher incomes, force them into precarious situations that cause them to fall deeper into poverty.
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