The Unpaid Caregiver: Blessing or Burden?

Krause Financial

Disclaimer: With Medicaid, VA, and insurance regulations frequently changing, past blog posts may not be presently accurate or relevant. Please contact our office for information on current planning strategies, tips, and how-to's.

As the number of Americans over the age of 65 is expected to nearly double from 52 million in 2018 to 95 million in 2060,1 family caregivers continue to be a vital piece of the long-term care system in the U.S. In their 2020 survey, AARP found that there are nearly 42 million people in the U.S. providing unpaid care to a loved one over the age of 50.2 In fact, most of your clients probably know an unpaid family caregiver. While some began providing care gradually as their loved one’s health slowly declined, many others were thrust into the caregiving role when an immediate health crisis struck. Regardless of the circumstances, unpaid caregivers face many challenges, including risking their own health and financial stability.

Read More: How to Pay for Long-Term Care


Who Are Unpaid Caregivers?

In short, anyone can be an unpaid caregiver. Spouses, siblings, and children make up the largest portion of unpaid caregivers in the U.S. Most of them (61%) are women, and the fastest growth of unpaid caregivers is happening amongst younger generations.2 Their parents are living longer but also dealing with more chronic diseases and disabilities.


What Type of Care Do Unpaid Caregivers Provide?

Unpaid caregivers can help with a variety of tasks, from simple household chores to more strenuous duties. Tasks may include:

  • Paying bills
  • Providing transportation
  • Assisting with activities of daily living, such as bathing and dressing
  • Supplying wound care
  • Administering medication

On average, family caregivers spend 23.7 hours per week providing unpaid care.2


Advantages and Disadvantages of Being a Family Caregiver

Caring for a loved one as they age can be very rewarding. Plus, since the average cost of home health care in the U.S. is $5,000/month,3 unpaid family care is likely the most affordable option available to your client. However, it does come at a price to the caregiver. Caregivers often sacrifice their own health as stress mounts from tough day-to-day tasks. Additionally, providing care takes time away from their own lives, families, and careers, thus affecting their personal well-being, retirement savings, and career advancement opportunities. Caregiving can also create resentment amongst siblings. All in all, being a family caregiver is a double-edged sword that can be both a blessing and a burden.

Read More: Preserving a Legacy: How to Protect Your Client’s Inheritance from Medicaid


An Alternative to Unpaid Caregiving

The unfortunate reality is that caregivers can experience burnout, and caregiving tasks can eventually become too much for them to handle. If you have a client either providing or receiving unpaid care from a family member, they may be seeking an alternative option that allows them to protect their savings from paying the long-term care bill. The solution: Medicaid planning with a Medicaid Compliant Annuity (MCA). An MCA allows your client to preserve their hard-earned assets while receiving the care they need and alleviating the burden on their family caregiver.

If you have questions about a specific case or want to discuss the long-term care planning process, don’t hesitate to contact our office today!


1. Aging in the United States Fact Sheet, Population Reference Bureau, July 2019,

2. Caregiving in the U.S., AARP & National Alliance for Caregiving, 2020 Report,

3. Cost of Care Survey, Genworth, November 2021,


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