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What Caregiving Costs Women

Women are more likely than men to become caregivers—and the financial and emotional costs are enormous. Watch these videos to help you prepare.

WHEN AN ELDERLY PARENT BECOMES ILL, women still tend to be the ones stepping into the role of caregiver, juggling other family and professional responsibilities, and trying—somehow—to make it all work out. “And the financial cost of assuming that role can be enormous, says Cynthia Hutchins, director of financial gerontology at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. It’s “$324,000 in lost wages and benefits for women, versus $284,000 for men,” she notes, according to “The Journey of Caregiving: Honor, Responsibility and Financial Complexity,” a 2017 Merrill Lynch study conducted in partnership with Age Wave.

In a recent Facebook Live event, Merrill Lynch participated in a wide-ranging conversation about caregiving, hosted by MFS and Redbook magazine. The video clips below offer highlights. Watch them for tips and insights on how you can plan for the day when you might become a caregiver. Then visit our Journey of Caregiving page for more useful information.

PREPARE FOR THE UNEXPECTED

“Typically, when we become caregivers, it’s unexpected,” says Merrill Lynch Financial Advisor Lisa Kent. No one is ever really prepared. But there are things you can do to make the transition a little easier for you, financially. Here, she offers some suggestions.

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TALK WITH YOUR FAMILY—BEFORE THERE’S A CRISIS

Nowadays, with so many families spread across the country, managing expectations about who’s going to do what can be challenging. Having candid conversations “early and often” is key, says Cynthia Hutchins, director of financial gerontology for Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. Below, she suggests ways to help you get that conversation started.

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BE SURE TO SCHEDULE SOME ‘ME’ TIME

Being a caregiver can be a very lonely experience, but it can also be a gift—a special time to remember always. “You can’t bring your best self to your caregiving journey unless you’re taking care of yourself,” says Cynthia Hutchins, director of financial gerontology for Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. In this video, she and Merrill Lynch Financial Advisor Lisa Kent share practical suggestions for doing that.

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DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP

Caring for a loved one—their physical, financial and emotional needs—often seems overwhelming. A financial advisor and other professionals can help. “We’ll talk about what's dear to you, beyond the funds, the managers, and the investments—the emotional piece of it. And then we’ll call in other resources to help guide you. It takes a village to help you stay on this road,” says Merrill Lynch Financial Advisor Lisa Kent.

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3 Questions to Ask Your Advisor

  1. How can I ensure that the cost of caregiving doesn’t jeopardize my own financial security?
  2. What sort of investment strategy could help me prepare to cover any unexpected costs associated with caregiving?
  3. If I need to take time off from work to care for a loved one, what should I consider doing to manage my finances going forward?

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