One of the Biggest Challenges Workers Face While On the Job? Caregiving at Home


Author: John Schall

Originally published: Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Two out of every five adults are the family caregiver of a loved one – that is tens of millions of family caregivers across the country. You probably know someone who is caring for an elderly mother with Alzheimer’s, or a child with autism, or a partner with cancer. You might be a family caregiver yourself.

What might surprise you, though, is that most of the people who are caring for someone at home are also working a full- or part-time job. In fact, most family caregivers (62%) are between the principal working ages of 25 and 54. Workers who are family caregivers are as common as workers with brown eyes.

They do not have it easy. Caregiving takes a toll on their jobs and their livelihoods. In fact, a majority of caregivers (52%) feel their career is negatively impacted by their caregiving situation. Studies show that this belief is justified – the impact of caregiving on the lives of caregivers is very real.

Their health suffers.

Caregivers have a higher incidence of major health conditions (such as depression, hypertension, and diabetes) than non-caregivers – as a direct result of the stress that comes from caregiving. Caregivers often put the health of others above their own, which undermines healthy sleeping, eating, and exercising behaviors. Caregivers are also less likely to visit a doctor (for sick and well visits?). Caregiver stress can erode the immune system and actually increase susceptibility to illness. Their health care costs are 8% higher than non-caregivers.

They often have to miss work.

The hours that caregiving demands take a toll on work. Seventy-seven percent of caregivers have missed time from work. Caregivers miss an average of seven hours of work per week; and one in five miss ten or more hours of work per week. Over the course of a year, caregiving workers must take an average 9.8 days off to manage their caregiving responsibilities. Caregivers can also have difficulty concentrating on the job, due to consistently worrying about loved ones at home: 34% of family caregivers report having had difficulty focusing at work; and 39% have had difficulty getting their work done on time.

They lose money.

Excessive missed work time does not go unnoticed by employers and negatively impacts caregivers’ income. The average income lost by caregivers each year is 33%, a daunting percentage. Compounding the financial impact, caregivers also have to pay an average of $10,000 each year for out-of-pocket caregiving expenses. Given that caregiving responsibilities often fall on people during their prime working years, the cumulative financial loss to a caregiver over time is staggering.

Sometimes they even lose their job.

Eleven percent of caregivers are forced to have to quit their job entirely in order to care for someone at home around-the-clock. When this is the case, the lifetime lost wages, pensions, and Social Security benefits total more than $300,000!

Caregiving is hard work. It does not make sense to make it even more difficult by not providing accommodations for caregiving employees – especially when those accommodations are easy to implement and, in many cases, are already available. When forced to choose between work and family, there can be only one result, and everyone loses in that scenario.

Employees are more productive when they are better able to balance their work with their caregiving responsibilities. Minimizing their stress enables employees to be better able to fulfill the jobs for which they were hired and trained. And in a country that prides itself on its family values, does it not make sense to do what is best for the Nation’s family caregivers?

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John Schall is CEO of the non-profit Caregiver Action Network. For more information about supporting your caregiving employees, visit

Caregiver Action Network is the nation’s leading non-profit family caregiver organization working to improve the quality of life for the more than 90 million Americans who care for loved ones with chronic conditions, disabilities, disease, or the frailties of old age. Caregiver Action Network developed the ACE Program as part of its mission to serve the nation’s family caregivers.

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