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Many Working Women Are Also Caregivers for Elderly Parents

By HERWriter
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Many Working Women Also Caregivers for Elderly Parents Melpomene/fotolia

Women are torn in plenty of directions these days. Back in the naive 1970s, we were told that we could have it all. Raising families, beautiful homes, active in the community, working full-time in a satisfying career ... But it hasn't panned out that way for most.

The only kind of "having it all" some of us carry is all the guilt, all the stress, and all the exhaustion in all their possible forms. Hold down a job. Raise your kids. Oh, and don't forget to take care of your aging parents. Didn't you know? You're supposed to be able to handle it all.

But we can't. The more things we try to encompass, the more we need to streamline or risk bursting asunder.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that 44 million Americans are unpaid providers of eldercare, according to The Atlantic. And most of these are women.

More than 60 million families need caregivers for disabled or elderly members. Women make up 80 to 90 percent of these caregivers, according to Forbes.

Family Caregiver Alliance reported that 65 percent of those needing long-term eldercare get it solely from their family and friends. Thirty percent have paid providers, mixed with care by family members.

Half of those needing long-term eldercare are in nursing homes because there is nobody else to take care of them. But out of those who have a family caregiver, only 7 percent of them are institutionalized.

The effects of long-term unpaid caregiving can be widespread and life-changing. It's not unusual for women in such a position to make job changes. They may have to switch from full-time to part-time jobs, or find different work that makes room for their parental duties. Not their duty as parents, their duty to parents.

They may have to take vacation time, paid or otherwise, and sometimes they'll have to quit their jobs, either because they can't make their time stretch enough, or because the stress has become too much to handle.

Paychecks shrink, become less frequent, or disappear. Benefits like health insurance, and retirement savings are at risk.

About 20 percent of all American working women are caregivers for family members.

The Crisis Facing America's Working Daughters. Theatlantic.com. Retrieved Nov. 1, 2016.

Who Are the Caregivers? Caregiver.org. Retrieved Nov. 1, 2016.

Is Caring For Aging Parents Unfair to Women? Forbes.com. Retrieved Nov. 1, 2016.

Support Groups. AgingCare.com. Retrieved Nov. 2, 2016.

Add a Comment1 Comments

Great points, Ms. Smith. Taking care of elders is a tough journey affecting many women, including women still raising children. It's important to seek support from family, look for resources and find ways to reduce the burden (emotionally, financially and physically). Asking for all family members to carry their share of the load is an important step in the process.

January 3, 2017 - 12:18pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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