ELDERCARE: Caregivers Suffer Financial, Career Losses
Caregivers for elderly relatives suffer enormous financial and professional losses, as two-thirds "lose out at work by forgoing promotions, pay raises and training opportunities," according to a new study released today by the National Center for Women and Aging at Brandeis University and the National Alliance for Caregivers. The AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that 69% of study respondents arrived late at the work place or left early to attend to caregiving duties, while 67% took take time off during the work day. Sixty-four percent of participants used sick days, and 22% took a leave of absence to care for elderly relatives. Some participants were forced to reduce significantly their work responsibilities to offset caregiving, as 20% moved from full to part-time status, 16% quit and 13% retired early. In addition, caregiving duties led 29% of respondents to decline a promotion or training assignment. "I think caregivers will be aghast. This is a store of wealth, a loss that continually occurs," Dr. Phyllis Mutschler, executive director of the National Center for Women and Aging said, adding, "Once a person has fallen off an earning trajectory, they don't tend to regain ground. From the time of retirement to when they die, caregivers will have fewer benefits." The study reveals that the average lifetime wage loss for the 30 of the 55 participants who could provide detailed financial records totaled $659,139. Although the survey sample was small, Mutschler maintained that the study is important because it marks the first effort to assess financial losses suffered by caregivers (Noonan, 11/29).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.