If there’s one food that people associate with Valentine’s Day, it’s chocolate. More than half of those celebrating are expected to give candy this year, spending 1.8 billion dollars on sweet treats, according to the National Retail Federation. Although studies that find chocolate is good for your brain grab headlines, this Valentine’s Day consider skipping the candy and instead spending quality time with loved ones.
We vow ‘in sickness and in health,’ and ‘for richer or poorer,’ hoping to never experience illnesses or financial difficulties. When tragedy strikes, spouses are often left battling both; taking on the huge responsibilities of caring for their husbands or wives’ needs, and managing their health and recovery. Yvette and Walter from North Carolina live this struggle. After Walt’s stroke 2 years ago, Yvette has, “as caregiver and wife learned to manage…medical appointments, lawn care, repairs and finances," all while continuing to work full time. Sadly, this is reality for so many family caregivers. “The hardest thing has been the financial loss out of our household…I use over $1,000 from my paycheck monthly to cover what Walt's retirement and social security disability checks do not cover.” This Valentine’s Day, we are reminded of the incredible labor of love that family caregivers across the country provide for their spouses, parents, siblings, and others every day. Stories, like Yvette and Walt’s, demonstrate the need for a caregiver tax credit to support families struggling with the financial challenges of at-home caregiving. In 2016, the average family caregiver spent almost $7,000 on out of pocket costs – all to help their loved ones remain at home and in their communities – where they want to be. However, we know that out of pocket costs vary. According to a 2016 AARP report:
Valentine’s Day this past weekend brought sweets and other treats for loved ones, and for some couples, an engagement. A hard-to-believe 6 million people told American Express that they were either expecting or planning a marriage proposal on the national love holiday.
Valentine’s Day may be over, but 42 million Americans continue to give their hearts each and every day. They are family caregivers who help parents, spouses, aunts, uncles and other loved ones to live independently at home, where they want to be. For these unsung heroes, love goes beyond chocolate and roses — and their labor of love means driving to doctor’s appointments, cooking, cleaning, helping bathe and dress their loved ones, managing medications, performing medical tasks and more.
Valentine’s Day is coming up, but I have to admit, Alzheimer’s complicates loving someone who is struggling to cope with the confusion of an ever-changing world.
Search AARP Blogs