As the general American population continues to age, more and more people are stepping into the role of caregivers. The Employment Panel of Caregivers projects that the number of seniors requiring care will double by the year 2031. This means additional resources need to be available to these individuals to prevent stress, burnout, and potential self-harm.
Caregivers are defined as individuals, unpaid and paid, who provide care, support and help with daily living activities for another individual with some type of ailment. Yet, one thing that is important to note is that caregivers are not monolithic. The Employment Panel of Caregivers notes that men are almost as likely as women to be caregivers (46% vs. 54%) although women are more likely to provide 20 or more hours of care per week. The majority of caregivers (44%) fall into the age bracket of 45-64. Yet, there are plenty of millennials (45<) who are taking care of spouses and relatives as well. 25-44 year-olds account for 28% of caregivers while the youngest caregivers in the age bracket of 15-24s make up 15% of caregivers.
Many of these caregivers, however, work outside of the home and often take on additional work responsibilities in addition to the ones they have at home. According to the Employment Panel of Caregivers can make up more than 35%- up to six million people- of the general workforce. These caregivers are often balancing dual roles. They are spending more and more time outside the workforce taking on responsibilities of transporting the care recipient, maintaining the household they are in, and additional day-to-day tasks such as scheduling appointments, and managing finance while providing personal and medical care. In some large corporations, up to 18% of those employed are current caregivers, and 10% have been caregivers in the past. Many may also request to leave due to the variety of factors that they are dealing with increasing responsibilities outside the office. Researchers at LifeHealthPro report that unmet stress for caregivers, who cannot hire paid help for their loved one, lead to 61% of caregivers asking for a leave of absence. Men are also 159% likely than women to ask for time off from their job due to demands.
Because the number of caregivers will only continue to grow, corporations and employees must work together to ensure the wellbeing of the caregiver as well as the productivity of the general workforce is at a healthy level. Some suggested solutions are more flexible work hours along with work-from home arrangements, access to respite care, tax credits for family caregivers, and more information on support groups. Hopefully with new technology, and the continuous recognition of caregivers needs lead to better work-life balance initiatives for all.