FCA Fact Sheet looks at financial and health impacts
Women who provide long-term care for a chronically ill loved one often suffer serious long-term financial consequences—including reduced Social Security, pension and retirement income—as a result of reduced time in the workforce. Further, earlier leave taken from the workforce to care for young children, as well as the significant expense of caregiving itself, may compound this difficult financial picture.
This detailed portrait of women who care for an elderly or ill family member is presented in a new Fact Sheet developed by FCA’s National Center on Caregiving.
According to the Fact Sheet, a compendium of information from a wide range of studies, women comprise 59-75% of all family caregivers in this country, and caregiving impacts every aspect of life, from income level to physical and emotional health. Because women live longer than men and tend to outlive their spouses, older women often discover that few resources, financial or otherwise, are available to meet their own needs for assistance when those needs arise.
Who Are the Caregivers?
The average caregiver is a 46-year-old married woman who works outside the home earning an annual income of $35,000.
The value of informal caregiving provided by women in this country ranges from $148 billion to $188 billion annually.
Women are likely to spend a total average of 12 years out of the workforce raising children and caring for an older relative or friend.
Although men also provide assistance, female caregivers may spend as much as 50% more time providing care than male caregivers.
33% of working women decreased their work hours to care for a chronically ill loved one; 29% passed up a job promotion training or assignment; 16% quit their jobs; and 13% retired early.
Women who provided care for an ill or disabled spouse are six times as likely to suffer symptoms of depression or anxiety as those who had no caregiving responsibilities.
25% of women caregivers report health problems resulting from their caregiving activities.
The challenges of caregiving also have a positive side, however: many women caregivers report feeling a stronger sense of purpose in life than their noncaregiving women peers, as well as more autonomy and personal growth.
"The value of family caregiving cannot be underestimated," said Kathy Kelly, FCA’s Executive Director. "When you examine the wide range of caregiving responsibilities that women undertake, the financial worth of the care, and the enormous personal sacrifices that caregivers make, it is clear that support services need to be in place nationally that offer substantial, sustainable assistance. Our public health system truly depends on caregivers’ ability to provide long-term care and their willingness to do so."
The Women and Caregiving: Facts and Figures Fact Sheet is available for free online. Order a print version by sending $1 per Fact Sheet to Family Caregiver Alliance Publication Orders, 180 Montgomery Street, Suite 1100, San Francisco, CA 94104.
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