Increasingly, children of baby boomers are taking on caregiver roles as they age into retirement. This can be a rewarding opportunity for adult children to spend time with their parents and give back to them. However, it can also add pressure and stress to already busy lives. Caregiving for an elderly family member can bring physical, emotional, financial, and psychological challenges.
It is widely projected that soon 70% of all seniors will need long-term care during their lifetimes. This care is increasingly being provided in the home by a caregiver who is also a family member, mainly their adult child. The adult child acting as a caregiver often has a family of their own and a career.
Negative Effects of Caregiving on a Caregiver’s Career
The time and energy spent caring for an older relative can negatively affect, or even end, a caregiver’s career. A caregiver can miss out on wages and work opportunities while they are providing for their elderly relative, especially if the care goes on for a long period of time. A 2021 study by Genworth found that 51% of employed caregivers felt caregiving negatively affected their ability to do their jobs. Of the caregivers interviewed, 55% said they lost income due to their caregiving.
Employers Offering More Flexibility
As the number of workers who are also caregivers has increased, some employers are making it easier for their employees to juggle their responsibilities. The corporate shift to create flexibility and policy that addresses caregiver needs in the workplace will continue to increase as the baby boomer population ages. The change is welcome since, on average, caregivers spend 21 hours every week providing care.
Flexible work policies are having a positive effect as caregiver employees can transport their loved ones to daytime appointments or other scheduled events. Some portions of employees’ workloads are being shifted to remote work at home. Some employers allow employees to donate vacation or sick time to caregiving coworkers. Additional policies and benefits available for family caregiver support include subsidized in-home backup care, emergency care, and other low-cost or free resources and services. As the need for senior caregiving increases, employers will have to continue increasing accommodations to employees who are also family caregivers.
For career planning purposes, family caregivers should take full advantage of coaching and support programs that outline future financial and legal implications of caregiving as it relates to their careers. Mitigating negative circumstances before they present themselves is the goal. The sooner a realistic assessment of a senior’s needs is handled, the sooner a caregiver can develop a plan to protect their livelihood and future retirement.
Employers understand the negative effects that absences, reduced hours, and chronic tardiness have on productivity and the bottom line. Caregivers must strategize to avoid jeopardizing their careers. Corporate policy changes and additional resources regarding employees who are also caregivers are helping make this situation mutually agreeable. The percentage of caregivers reporting adverse effects on their careers due to caregiving is dropping. While this is a positive sign, there is a lot of groundwork to do to ensure caregivers can retain their jobs without unnecessary financial loss or penalty.
Most seniors are in denial about their potential need for care, and most caregivers fall into their role after the senior has an adverse health event. A caregiver’s savings and retirement funds are at risk when no planning is in place. Planning can help reduce stress and negative effects on future caregiver status as well as career success.
Our law firm is dedicated to informing you of issues affecting seniors who may be experiencing declining health. We help you and your loved ones prepare for potential long-term medical expenses and the need to transition to in-home care, assisted living care, or nursing home care.