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NH Groups: Family Caregivers Could Benefit from Credit for Caring Act


Wednesday, August 11, 2021   

CONCORD, N.H. - More than 48 million people nationwide become unpaid caregivers for an adult family member or friend each year, and new survey data says on average, they spend more than $7,000 a year to provide that care. A bill before Congress would provide eligible caregivers with a tax credit of up to $5,000 to offset those expenses.

Todd Fahey, state director of AARP New Hampshire, said the Granite State is home to roughly 177,000 family caregivers.

"They are the backbone of the long-term care system," he said. "They're the ones who do all this work without compensation, usually without any recognition from anybody, other than the one they're caring for."

Fahey recommended that caregivers record their expenses as they're incurred, talk with their loved one about their wishes for care, and make a money management plan. About half of caregivers surveyed by AARP said they spend their own money on household expenses, and 30% pitch in to pay rent or mortgage payments for the person they're assisting.

Caregivers in what's known as the "Boomer" and "Silent" generations spend the most raw dollars, as the study found many are caring for people with dementia. But Fahey added that it's "Millennial" and "Gen-Z" caregivers who spend the greatest share of their annual income on care-related expenses.

"People first starting off in their careers and just sort of getting themselves financially stable," he said. "It hits them harder."

About a third of respondents said they've had to change their own work schedules, or take time off. Retired Granite Stater Roger Desrosiers was a caregiver to his father for 17 years. He said he believes that in addition to a tax credit, caregivers need services such as day programs for seniors and paid family and medical leave.

"Around the time that he had his heart attack," he said, "it would have been very helpful to be able to take the time off work then, and be home with him - and to be able to monitor his health over those initial days and weeks."

Desrosiers said that when his father first came to stay with him and his wife, his father was largely independent. But over time, after suffering a heart attack - and later, dementia - the level of care increased.

Disclosure: AARP New Hampshire contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Health Issues, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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