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Caregiving in America

The Cost of Caregiving

Four in 10 caregivers feel as though they did not have a choice in taking on the caregiver role. Family dynamics can be complicated, and with family members spread around the country, the primary responsibility often falls to the adult child who lives nearest.

Stresses of caregiving are significant; remember that 75 percent of caregivers are also employed. Seven in 10 of those make accommodations in their work schedules to fulfill their caregiving duties. Some go in late, leave early, or take time off during the day. Almost one in five takes a leave of absence, and some caregivers have to leave the workforce entirely so that they can provide care for a loved one.

Stress shows up in many ways. One in six people report that caregiving has made their health worse. More than half note that they have less time for friends and their own family members. Add into the mix that caregivers often pay out-of-pocket for goods and services provided to their loved ones, and it is easy to understand why one in 10 report that the financial hardships of caregiving are high. In fact, only four in 10 caregivers said that they got paid help during last 12 months (either from a housekeeper, in-home health aide, or some other assistant), because professional services are so costly.

Tips to Help Caregivers

Providing caregiving support can be demanding, so here are tips to reduce the stress that many caregivers experience:

Talk with your office:

  • Let your manager or supervisor know about your caregiving demands. It's better that he or she hears from you why you're coming in late or seem preoccupied.
  • Find out your company's policy toward caregivers and whether your employer offers benefits that could help. Your employer may have an Employee Assistance Program, which could give you advice and direction. Your employer also may let you develop your own flextime schedule.


Don't do it all alone; get help!

Caregivers who get help are less likely to burn out and are better able to provide long-term support to their parents.

  • Engage your family: Have a talk with your siblings to make a plan.
  • Identify which family members can do what. (Maybe a sibling who works full-time can serve as a medical liaison, or a wealthier sibling can fund the cost of a home-health aide or someone to clean a parent's home. Maybe a geographically distant sibling can volunteer to handle finances.)
  • Tap into community services. It often takes work to find the most effective help for your situation.
  • If you live far away from a loved one, you might want to ask a geriatric care manager to locate services that are close to your parent.
  • If your loved one has been hospitalized, arrange some time with a hospital social worker or hospital discharge planner to discuss next steps.
  • Check to see how an Area Agency on Aging, faith-based services, or your local department of social services can help.
  • Remember to ask friends and co-workers for advice. They may have encountered similar situations and have some valuable advice.
  • When friends and neighbors ask if there is anything they can do to help, let them help you—maybe they can take over your day for the carpool, take your car in for service, or invite you over for supper.

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