New Study Shows Severity of Alzheimer’s Caregiving on Working Women

The Working Mother Research Institute surveyed nearly 2,500 women, including more than 1,200 who have cared for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, to get a clear picture of how the responsibility of caregiving affects their emotional, financial and work lives, as well as their families.
Women and Alzheimer’sDisease: The Caregiver’s Crisis was sponsored by GE and designed with input from the Alzheimer’s Association. It explores not only the burden of caring for a loved one with the disease, but also ways that employers, doctors and families can help caregivers lighten their loads ever so slightly.
They also talked to women who are not caregivers, to learn more about how well they understand the disease and to get a sense of their feelings about it.
Among the conclusions:

åáåÊåÊåÊ Employers can‰Ûªt afford to overlook the issue of Alzheimer‰Ûªs. As society ages and workers retire later, there will be ever more Alzheimer‰Ûªs caregivers on the job, says Ellen Galinsky, president and co-founder of the Families and Work Institute. ‰ÛÏOur data shows 49 percent of workers expect to be caregivers within the next five years,‰Û she says.

åáåÊåÊåÊ Doctors need to be more proactive. Despite women‰Ûªs higher risk for the disease, doctors aren‰Ûªt regularly discussing Alzheimer‰Ûªs or aging at checkups. More than three quarters of respondents say their physician hasn‰Ûªt broached either topic.

åáåÊåÊåÊ A substantial number of women are stuck in a caregiving role. Although 30 percent want to provide care themselves, even more‰ÛÓ39 percent‰ÛÓappear to be trapped (no other family member can do it, it feels ‰ÛÏexpected,‰Û or they can‰Ûªt afford or don‰Ûªt like the available facility care.)

åáåÊåÊåÊ Whether they are tending to someone by choice or by default, caregivers are struggling in every area of life. They are more likely than their predecessors to feel overwhelmed, to feel they don‰Ûªt have a choice in taking on the role and to be experiencing a financial drain. As well, at a time when extra income is sorely needed, caregiving often places a women‰Ûªs career on hold‰ÛÓshe‰Ûªs less likely to take a promotion and much more likely to make schedule adjustments (scaled-back hours, a leave of absence) that reduce her chances for immediate advancement.

åáåÊåÊåÊ Within the caregiving group, minorities are struggling the most. They spend more on caregiving overall and are twice as likely as white caregivers to spend more than $10,000 per year. They also have fewer hours of help at home, despite being nearly twice as likely to be caring for a patient in the late/severe stage of the disease.
åáåÊåÊåÊ Caregiver health is a major issue, given that these women often take better care of the loved one with Alzheimer‰Ûªs than themselves. The Alzheimer‰Ûªs Association estimates that caregiver health problems cost the U.S. $8.7 billion each year.åÊ

A quick search of this blog will show the enormous amount of space devoted to caregiving issues. This is a societal problem that needs support from everyone, including those not affected by caregiving directly.åÊ