The Negative Effects of Caregiving on Individuals and Families

Providing care for loved ones has taken a toll on the careers of half of caregivers surveyed in Genworth’s latest Beyond Dollars study, with 11 percent actually losing their jobs and another 10 percent having to change careers. That’s in addition to the other financial, physical and emotional impacts of caregiving examined in the study.

Genworth released the findings last month during its annual Long Term Care Symposium on Capitol Hill, which brought together many of the nation’s leading caregiver advocates and lawmakers to highlight the challenges of caregiving and explore ways to make that job easier on families. Caregiving responsibilities may include helping with activities such as bathing, dressing and household chores.

Among caregivers surveyed in the study, 51 percent felt that caregiving responsibilities negatively impacted their ability to perform their jobs. That’s not surprising, considering these findings:

  • 77% reported missing some work during the past year, up 19% from when caregivers were surveyed by Genworth in 2010.
  • Caregivers missed an average of 7 hours of work per week.
  • 19% missed 10 or more hours of work per week.

As a result of their caregiving responsibilities:

  • 11% lost their jobs.
  • 10% had to change careers.
  • 12% had to change positions.

Absences, reduced hours and chronic tardiness also translated into a significant reduction in caregivers’ paychecks.  Approximately one-third of caregivers provided 30 hours or more of care a week.  And, on average, caregivers reported having lost one-third of their income.

“Although caregiving brings many rewards, it can also have very real negative consequences for families who haven’t planned ahead for the possibility of their loved ones needing long term care,” said Suly Salazar-Layton, Director of Thought Leadership at Genworth’s U.S. Life Insurance Division. “In fact, 50 percent of respondents said if they could do anything differently, it would be to do a better job of planning. Our hope is that this study will encourage families to sit down and have that talk well before caregiving becomes a crisis.”

The denial factor

The study also highlights several factors contributing to respondents’ reluctance to plan early. Two of the biggest factors cited were “not wanting to admit care was needed,” and “not wanting to talk about the issue” (cited by 30 percent and 25 percent, respectively).Overall, caregivers who planned earlier for long-term-care arrangements saved money. For instance, caregivers providing care to recipients who had LTCI were able to secure a reimbursement of 23 percent of their qualified out-of-pocket expenses.

“It’s not easy to admit when there is an issue, especially when it comes to matters of declining health, and it’s not always easy broaching the topic of long term care with the people you love,” said Salazar-Layton.  “But meeting the challenge with action – speaking with your loved ones and meeting with a financial professional – does make things easier in the long run for caregivers and care recipients.”

Beyond Dollars found that almost half of care recipients (48 percent) had considered the possibility of a need for LTC, but only one-quarter of this group (26 percent) had actually made a plan to cover their potential needs. Even planners felt they could have been better prepared:  63 percent of this group believed they should have taken steps sooner, which would have led to reduced stress.

Additional resources

Information on what the cost of care is in 440 regions across all 50 states can be found by visiting Genworth’s Cost of Care websiteGenworth’s Let’s Talk website also offers tips for initiating conversations about LTC and financial planning with loved ones. In addition, consumers looking to plan for their LTC needs can tap additional resources such as the National Advisory Center for Long Term Care Information at  Genworth’s Caregiver Support Resource also helps families make informed choices about LTC.

 The study, conducted by Genworth in conjunction with Directive Analytics in May 2015, included interviews with 1,200 U.S. consumers 21 years of age or older. Respondents either were recipients of long-term care, caregivers, or had a family member who was a recipient of care greater than 30 days during the previous 12-month period.

Additional findings from the survey are detailed in the Beyond Dollars Executive Summary, and key findings are visually represented in an infographic.

Ayo Mseka