What Happens to Family Caregivers
Who Leave the Work Force?
New report examines the effects of caregiving
on finances and retirement planning
SAN FRANCISCO (January 23, 2004) —Nearly one quarter of American households provide care to relatives or friends age 50 or older. What is the fiscal toll on family caregivers who leave their jobs to provide that unpaid care? The question is addressed in a new policy brief released by the National Center on Caregiving at Family Caregiver Alliance.
According to the report, while long-term caregiving can tax the finances of any family, since approximately 75 percent of caregivers are female, the economic effect is intensified for women. Women also provide “informal” (unpaid) care longer than men—in many cases, for more than five years.
The effects will be enormous for women of the Baby Boom generation, who are in the workforce more than any generation before, and who are now well into the age range in which long-term caregiving—whether for a parent, spouse or another relative--is a likely occurrence.
“All told,” the report states, “lower lifetime wages, workforce segregation and a greater proclivity to move in and out of the workforce raising children and caring for ill or disabled family and friends, severely impact women’s retirement income.”
The new policy brief explores:
- The reduced Social Security benefits based on reduced earnings;
- The limited access to employer-sponsored pensions;
- The effect of moving from full- to part-time work, or taking leave; and
- The reduction in personal savings.
The report also offers specific recommendations to policy-makers to ameliorate those effects, including changes in Social Security, the Family and Medical Leave Act, pension law, and dependent care tax credits.
Caregiving and Retirement Planning: What Happens to Family Caregivers Who Leave the Workforce was written by Laurie Young, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Older Women’s League, and Sandra Newman, M.P.H., Policy Specialist at Family Caregiver Alliance’s National Center on Caregiving. The brief is available free on the FCA website at www.caregiver.org. It is also available in print by sending $25.00 to Family Caregiver Alliance Publications, 180 Montgomery St., Ste. 1100, San Francisco, CA 94104.
The report is part of a series of publications on caregiving produced by the National Center on Caregiving at Family Caregiver Alliance and funded by the Archstone Foundation.
Family Caregiver Alliance, founded in 1977, operates programs at the national, state and local levels to sustain and support the important work of families providing care to loved ones affected by chronic, disabling health conditions. Offering information, education, consultation and support, FCA and the National Center on Caregiving work to advance the development of caregiver support programs in every state in the country. For more information, visit the award-winning website at www.caregiver.org, call FCA at (800) 445-8106, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: For reporters covering aging and long-term care, the upcoming American Society on Aging/National Council on the Aging joint national conference offers an invaluable source for news, information and contacts. It will be held in San Francisco April 14-17, 2004. Senior FCA staff—along with staff from every major US aging organization—will be presenting a wide range of conference sessions. For press information, go to: http://www.agingconference.org/press/index.cfm
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