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Women as Caregivers a Focus of Women’s History Month

Who provides the majority of the long-term care services in this country?

Many Americans wrongly assume it’s nursing homes.

In reality, family members—mostly women—are the primary caretakers for people of all ages with disabilities and those who need help meeting daily needs.

As we celebrate Women’s History Month in March, AARP Texas would like to take a moment to thank the many strong Texans who struggle to balance career and family responsibilities while caring for a loved one.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of family caregivers. An AARP study found that families provide billions of dollars worth of care to loved ones each year. The economic value of this care is estimated at $350 billion nationally and $24 billion in Texas alone!

Informal, unpaid caregiving is the backbone of our nation’s long-term care system. These caregivers help family members remain in their homes and communities, where most people prefer to receive care. But often times, our sisters, daughters and mothers pay a price for their service—financially, emotionally and physically.

Combining caring for a sick family member with work and family demands can be a recipe for overload. Three out of four caregivers balance full-time jobs with providing an average of 20 hours per week of assistance. That’s like having a second job!

Nearly two-thirds of caregivers report having shown up late for work, left early or taken time off to accommodate caregiving tasks. As caregivers are forced to take time off and work shorter days, they can face lower wages, reduced job security and loss of health insurance.

At home, caregiving responsibilities can burden family relations and strain pocketbooks. More than half of caregivers have less time for friends and other family members. Many find themselves paying for goods and services for their loved ones—out-of-pocket expenses that can quickly eat away at a household budget.

Caregivers also often place their own health at risk. Caregivers are more than twice as likely to have one or more chronic conditions.

Given the great impact these women have on our economy and our families, we must help their being overwhelmed by the demands placed on them. It’s time to help family caregivers help the ones they love.

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