Merrill Lynch study says most caregivers are also financial guardians

A new study finds that 92 percent of caregivers are also financial caregivers, meaning they are contributing to and/or coordinating finances for the person for which they are caring.

The study – conducted by Merrill Lynch in partnership with Age Wave – also reveals that these 40 million caregivers in the United States spend $190 billion per year on their adult care recipients.

Despite the financial challenges in this life stage, 91 percent of caregivers are grateful to help out in any way and 77 percent said they “would gladly do so again.”

“As tens of millions of people take on caregiving responsibilities each year, supporting those caring for our aging population has become one of the most pressing financial issues of our lifetime,” Lorna Sabbia, head of Retirement and Personal Wealth Solutions for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said. “Greater longevity is going to have a profound impact on the caregiving landscape and calls for earlier, more comprehensive planning and innovative solutions to address the health and long-term care needs of our loved ones.”

The study revealed that caregivers are responsible for a variety of duties. Specifically, 65 percent said they pay bills from their recipient’s account, 53 percent monitor bank accounts, 47 percent handle insurance claims, 41 percent file taxes, and 21 percent manage invested assets.

Further, 57 percent of respondents said that navigating health insurance expenses is the top challenge of financial caregiving. In addition, 49 percent said they do not have the legal authority to perform their role, while 66 percent believe they could use financial advice.

The survey also explains that 53 percent have made financial sacrifices to be a caregiver. Nonetheless, 61 percent said there is satisfaction in doing the right thing.

“Caregiving is one of today’s most complex life stages, throughout which hard work, high stress, and heavy obligations intertwine with honor, meaning, and resilience,” Ken Dychtwald, CEO and founder of Age Wave. “This experience becomes even more emotionally complex and financially challenging when caring for loved ones suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s. Even with that added burden, this study reveals that 65 percent say that being a caregiver brought purpose and meaning to their life.”