Study Shows Price of Caregiving

Aging Today, September/October 2005 | Go to article overview

Study Shows Price of Caregiving


"While caregivers provide a critical, vital function in society, they pay a price in terms of their financial security and overall well-being," concludes a new study by the Commonwealth Fund, based in New York City. According to the report, "Caregivers are less likely than noncaregivers to be working, to miss days of work when they are employed and to lack health-insurance coverage."

The study, titled A Look at Working-Age Caregivers' Roles, Health Concerns, and Need for Support, focused on the estimated 16 million caregivers ages 19 to 64-nearly one in 10 working-age adults-who cared for a sick or disabled family member in 2003. (An additional 2 million caregivers are 65 or older.) Of the nonelderly caregivers, more than 9 million have health problems of their own, the study found.

HALF DON'T GET CARE

Half of caregivers (51%) in the survey reported not getting needed care because of cost, compared with 35% of noncaregivers. Also, 60% reported having problems ,with their medical bills, compared with 39% of noncaregivers. Three-fifths of caregivers reported having fair or poor health status, one or more chronic conditions or a disability, compared with onethird of noncaregivers.

The survey added weight to earlier studies showing that caregiving duties reduce employees' productivity because of factors including absenteeism, unscheduled time off and lateness. Compared with noncaregivers (18%), almost twice as many caregivers in the study missed at least six days of work in the previous year because they or a family member were ill (35%).

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