The Crisis of Caring for an Aging Loved One

Senior Couple in Sun Room

The following data is from AARP ( and addresses the crisis adult children face in caring for an older relative or friend. 

  • Caring for an older relative or friend is now the “new normal” of family caregiving in the United States. Today, the “average” family caregiver in the United States is a 49-year-old woman who works outside the home and spends the equivalent of an additional half-time job (nearly 20 hours a week) providing unpaid care to her mother for nearly five years. Most family caregivers are female (65 percent); about one in three (35 percent) are male.
  • Older worker—those most likely to have eldercare responsibilities—are an increasing proportion of the workforce.
  • More than half (58%) are estimated to be currently employed either full time or part time, juggling work with their caregiving role.
  • About 42 percent of U.S. workers have provided eldercare in the past five years. Just under half (49%) of the workforce expects to be providing eldercare for a family member or friend in the coming five years.
  • Research consistently shows that family and friends provide from 80% to 90%of care in the community to older adults. Caregiving in today’s economic climate and fragmented systems of health care and long-term services and supports (LTSS) can have a significant impact on the family members who are the caregivers.
  • Eldercare may arise gradually from chronic, degenerative conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, or Alzheimer’s disease. But very often the need for LTSS arises abruptly as the result of an accident or acute health crisis, such as a broken hip or a stroke.

Suddenly, an adult child is thrown into the world of caregiving with little preparation or time to make choices. The unpredictability of eldercare, and its enormous financial costs, often add to the strain of family caregiving and keeping a job.

  • A recent study found that 30 percent of women caring for an older relative with chronic care needs and functional limitations say they “rarely or never” feel their work and family responsibilities are aligned.
  • The financial impact on working caregivers who leave the labor force due to caregiving demands can be severe. A recent study suggests that 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.
  • According to the Caregiving in the U.S. 2009 survey, nearly seven in ten (68%) family caregivers of adults age 50 and older report making accommodations at work. Workers with eldercare responsibilities report the kinds of workplace effects that open up employees to discrimination, most commonly arriving late, leaving early, or taking time off during the day to provide care (64%), but also taking a leave of absence (17%) or reducing work hours from full to part time (9%). An estimated 10% of these family caregivers must quit their jobs to give care or choose early retirement.
  • A recent survey found that working caregivers of older adults are forced to miss an average of 6.6 days of work a year because of their eldercare responsibilities, and estimated that U.S. businesses lose up to $25 billion annually from full-time working caregivers due to absenteeism alone.

Caregiver-related information and resources for employees can help better manage caregiving responsibilities. Studies have shown benefits to employers with workplace eldercare programs, including worker retention, improved productivity, lower stress, and improved health among workers.

Traditions Senior Living offers such resources and support.

Examples of such programs may include referral to caregiver resources in the community, on-site support groups for working caregivers, finding the right senior living community, respite or short term care, or backup home-care for emergency needs.

Please contact your local Traditions Senior Living Community to learn more about how we may help you. For general inquires and guidance, please contact us online or at (615) 591-8231.

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