Providing caregiving help for an elderly relative–common among workers later in their careers–carries personal and financial risks, says a report from the TransAmerica Institute.
“A large proportion of the population is entering the age range where the need for them to become caregivers becomes more likely. At the same time, many find themselves financially unprepared for retirement and need to stay in the workforce longer. These factors, coupled with a healthcare system that is often difficult to navigate, result in an environment that is challenging for all concerned,” it says.
In a survey of caregivers, 55 percent said that their own health “is taking a back seat to the health of their care recipient” and 69 percent “gave little or no consideration to their own financial situation when deciding to become a caregiver.”
It said those factors take on added weight for those who provide such care at a time when people are living longer and the costs of long-term care are rising, increasing the numbers of people who will need such informal care, and for how long, Seventy-four percent of caregivers have been providing care for one or more years and 27 percent have been providing care for five or more years, it said.
The median number of hours spent per month providing care was 50, and 36 percent spend 100 or more hours per month. Further, they spent a median of $150 per month out of their own pockets on expenses for the care recipient, a sum that on average increases with the caregiver’s income.
The report found that caregivers commonly have to balance their own professional lives with the demands of caregiving: 39 percent are employed full-time, 13 percent are employed part-time, and 8 percent are self-employed. Three fourths “have made some type of adjustment to their employment as a result of their caregiving duties, ranging from using vacation and sick days (30 percent), to taking on fewer hours or responsibilities (26 percent), to quitting their jobs or retiring (14 percent).”
While 71 percent of employed caregivers “feel their employers are at least somewhat supportive, two in five feel that being a caregiver has strained their relationship with their employer,” it added.