Impact of Family Caregiving on Work

The AARP’s updated report on family caregivers and work shows increasing numbers of caregivers in the workplace.
The ‰ÛÏaverage‰Û U.S. caregiver is a 49-year-old woman who works outside the home and spends nearly 20 hours per week‰ÛÓthe equivalent of another parttime job‰ÛÓproviding unpaid care to her mother for nearly five years.
Family caregivers are as likely to be employed as noncaregivers. The majority (74 percent) of adults with
eldercare responsibilities have worked at a paying job at some point during their caregiving experience.
An estimated 61 percent of family caregivers of adults age 50 and older are currently employed either full-time (50 percent) or part-time (11 percent).
Forty-two percent of U.S. workers have provided care for an aging relative or friend in the past five years. About half (49 percent) of the workforce expects to be providing eldercare in the coming five years.
In 2011, 17 percent of workers in the United States provided eldercare.
Some 20 percent of all female and16 percent of all male workers in the United States are family caregivers.
Nearly one in four (22 percent) middle-aged and older workers (ages 45 to 64)‰ÛÓtypically caring for a parent‰ÛÓreport being family caregivers: the largest of any age group in the labor force.
Workers with eldercare responsibilities cut across all racial and ethnic group.
Of course this has implications on the workforce.åÊ
  • In a recent national survey, one in five (19 percent) retirees left the workforce earlier than planned because of having to care for an ill spouse or other family member.
  • Nearly seven in ten (68 percent) caregivers report making work accommodations because of caregiving. These adjustments include arriving late/leaving early or taking time off, cutting back on work hours, changing jobs, or stopping work entirely.
  • The experience of working caregivers with eldercare responsibilities differs from that of workers with childcare or no dependent care responsibilities. Research has found that working caregivers of aging relatives report having less access to flexible work options to carry out their work and caregiving responsibilities, and perceive significantly lower job security than workers with childcare needs.
  • Family caregivers (age 50 and older) who leave the workforce to care for a parent lose, on average, nearly $304,000 in wages and benefits over their lifetime. These estimates range from $283,716 for men to $324,044 for women.
åÊThis has a cost on businesses as well.
  • U.S. businesses lose up to an estimated $33.6 billion per year in lost productivity from full-time working caregivers. Costs associated with replacing employees, absenteeism, workday distractions, supervisory time, and reductions in hours from full-time to part-time all take a toll. The average annual cost to employers per full-time working caregiver is $2,110.
  • åÊWe have reported in many blog how the health of caregivers deteriorates as their caregiving duties accelerate. In one study, employers paid about 8 percent more for the health care of caregiver employees compared to noncaregivers, potentially costing U.S. businesses $13.4 billion per year.
Studies have documented that implementation of eldercare programs can benefit both employers and employees. Eldercare programs improve worker retention, productivity, stress levels, and health among workers.
According to the AARP, flexible workplace policies enhance employee productivity, lower absenteeism, reduce costs, and appear to positively affect profits. They also aid recruitment and retention efforts, allowing employers to retain a talented and knowledgeable workforce and save the money and time that would otherwise have been spent recruiting, interviewing, selecting, and training new employees.
In addition to specific eldercare benefits, flexible work options, family leave, and paid sick days are vital policies for working caregivers. These workplace benefits can help working adults balance their work, personal lives, and family caregiving responsibilities.åÊ
The implications for readers are wide-ranging. Know and understand the resources available in your community before you need them. Reach out for help when you become a caregiver. Advocate for workplace benefits that aid caregivers and most importantly take care of your own health during the process. You will not be a caregiver forever so make sure that when you move out of that role that you still have built a life for yourself.