Taking care of aging adults is more draining than taking care of small children for most people, according to a study by Northwestern Mutual released Monday.
The survey of 1,308 adults found that Americans are unprepared for the complex and unpredictable realities of longevity and caregiving, says Northwestern. The survey is called C.A.R.E. (Costs, Accountabilities, Realities, Expectations) Study.
Sixty percent of those surveyed say caring for two aging adults is more demanding than caring for two children ages 3 to 5.
Those who might be caregivers in the future are anxious about the cost, Northwestern says. Sixty-six percent say paying the extra costs would make a large financial impact on them and 38 percent say they have not planned for these costs. When asked where the money would come from, 48 percent say they would cut discretionary living expenses, 27 percent say they would take it from their retirement savings and 20 percent say they would get another job.
A disconnect exists between what inexperienced people think caregiving will mean and what experienced caregivers say it really is about, says Northwestern. Inexperienced caregivers expect their role to focus on performing chores such as grocery shopping (78 percent), cooking (73 percent) and laundry (72 percent).
Experienced caregivers, however, say even though chores are a big part of the job, emotional support ranked equally as high (83 percent). Financial support and personal hygiene were cited as the aspects of caregiving that cause the most anxiety.
Although stressful, 60 percent of those surveyed say caregiving makes them feel they are doing the right thing and 48 percent say it lets them return the care they received earlier in life.