Health

Pandemic Exacerbating Stressors for Black Caregivers

Millennials Shouldering the Load of Aging Family Members

While the risk of COVID-19 poses the greatest threat to the elderly, it’s also taking a toll on the people they rely on most: their caregivers. A new Nationwide Retirement Institute survey revealed this stands as particularly true in the Black community where the pandemic presents new sources of stress, both physically and financially.

The survey of 313 Black caregivers commissioned in September uncovers the toll the pandemic has taken on those providing care.

Many current caregivers say they’re worried that they can’t protect their loved ones from getting sick [67 percent] and among all caregivers, more than half feel that they can’t take a day off [54 percent].

As Black caregivers struggle to balance work and caregiving, many also have concerns about their financial security, with only 58 percent answering that they are prepared financially for current or potential caregiving responsibilities versus 67 percent of all caregivers.

“The pandemic has disproportionately impacted the Black community greater than other populations,” said Kristi Rodriguez, senior vice president of the Nationwide Retirement Institute. “Many Black caregivers are struggling to balance work while providing care or have experienced a financial hit due to COVID-19. Despite these obstacles, they continue to provide care for their loved ones every day.”

For Black caregivers, these costs average more than $5,000 a year and serve as an unwelcome sacrifice, according to the survey.

More than eight-in-10 Black caregivers believe they should be able to provide care without dipping into their savings, which some have done to afloat. Additionally, around a third say they’re worried they’ll be unable to provide money they had planned for their children or unable to retire one day because of caregiving expenses.

“Caregiving can be financially, emotionally and physically exhausting but it also is a rewarding experience that changes you as a person,” Rodriguez said. “The challenges of caregiving are exacerbated by the pandemic; it is an especially stressful time.”

Assistance is something that’s also lacking for Black caregivers. Nearly three-quarters wish they had more help with their caregiving duties because of the increased stress of the pandemic. One-in-six say they have had to look for additional caregiving help because of the pandemic while two-thirds of Black caregivers would not be comfortable having an at-home care provider.

The survey also found that caregivers continue to be younger adults. More and more millennials and Generation X are surpassing Boomers as the caregivers in their families.

For younger generations already struggling with work-life balance, this new role amounts to a second job with caregivers spending an average of 32 hours a week providing care says the survey.

Additionally, millennial Black caregivers spend $6,832 a year in out-of-pocket expenses on caregiving, and Black Generation X spend an average of $5,694. And younger Black caregivers have the added stress of worrying about how their job could impact their caregiving duties.

More than one-in-three millennials and Generation X say they are afraid their responsibilities at work could cause them to have to stop providing care to their loved one. Inversely, some say they’re even afraid their caregiving duties could cause them to lose their job.

While most Black caregivers said the pandemic has made it more important than ever to have long-term care insurance, only one-in-20 Black Americans say they have talked to a financial professional about long-term care costs.

“The pandemic is really bringing a sense of urgency for many Black Americans – especially younger generations – to focus on things such as financial planning, putting your health first and long-term care planning,” said Rodriguez. “One of the greatest gifts you can give your loved ones is having a plan for when you need caregiving.”

Sarafina Wright –Washington Informer Staff Writer

Sarafina Wright is a staff writer at the Washington Informer where she covers business, community events, education, health and politics. She also serves as the editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge, the Informer’s millennial publication. A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, she attended Howard University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. A proud southern girl, her lineage can be traced to the Gullah people inhabiting the low-country of South Carolina. The history of the Gullah people and the Geechee Dialect can be found on the top floor of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. In her spare time she enjoys watching either college football or the Food Channel and experimenting with make-up. When she’s not writing professionally she can be found blogging at www.sarafinasaid.com. E-mail: Swright@washingtoninformer.com Social Media Handles: Twitter: @dreamersexpress, Instagram: @Sarafinasaid, Snapchat: @Sarafinasaid

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