Women are more likely than men to become caregivers—and the financial and emotional costs are enormous.
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 Investment Management and Redbook magazine. The video clips below offer highlights. Watch them for tips and insights on what the women in your workforce are dealing with, then talk with your Bank of America Merrill Lynch representative about solutions to help employees prepare for the time when they may become a caregiver.
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 people can do to make the transition a little easier for them financially. Here, she offers some suggestions.
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.
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.
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.