More than 54 million Americans have a disability, so the likelihood of caring for a sibling with special needs or a disability is high. According to the Easter Seals Siblings Study sponsored by MassMutual, only one-third of respondents feel financially prepared to assume the responsibilities of being role.
“There is an undeniable bond between siblings, which can be especially close when one has special needs, but along with this relationship comes a unique set of circumstances and a great deal of responsibility,” says Joanne Gruszkos, founder and director of the SpecialCare Program, MassMutual. “For sibling caregivers, it’s critical to not only set realistic expectations, but also prepare financially, emotionally and physically.”
Commissioned in 2012, The Easter Seals Siblings Study revealed the insecurity and potential burdens sibling caregivers face throughout their lives.
- 60% wish they knew more about planning for their sibling’s care and finances.
- 40% say caring for a sibling with a disability has caused financial stress on their family.
- 29% spend up to 20 hours per week providing care
“The findings help us shape our support for families caring for someone with a disability and raise greater awareness about the challenges caregivers face,” says Patricia Wright, Easter Seals National Director of Autism Services. “There are more than 65 million caregivers in the United States and the Siblings Study paints a better picture of their needs, especially of those who are caring for a sibling.”
These 65 million people—29% of the U.S. population—provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend during any given year and spend an average of 20 hours per week providing care for their loved one, according to the study “Caregiving in the United States” by the National Alliance for Caregiving in collaboration with AARP, November 2009.
If you want to insure you won’t become a burden for your siblings, take personal financial responsibility and make sure you have taken advantage of disability insurance through your employer and/or have purchased individual disability insurance from your insurance agent or financial advisor.