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Three Things you Should Know About Being a Caregiver

Declining health is a reality for all of us and is a common factor in deciding to retire - either for your own health or the need to become a caregiver to someone else. More than 65 million people provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend.1 More than one quarter of retirees and pre-retirees expect to contribute toward caregiving expenses of a relative or friend.2

In this article, we highlight three important things everyone needs to know about being a caregiver. 

  1. Caregiving can impact your retirement
    Being a caregiver often means taking time off work or leaving employment altogether. It has been estimated that more than one third of caregivers leave the workforce or reduce hours worked.3 Any breaks in service or time not earning income will impact your future retirement benefits. Any leave without pay or breaks in service will affect your OPERS benefit, which is based in part on the amount of service you have accrued at retirement. Likewise with Social Security, time out of the workforce can reduce your lifetime benefit amount.

    According to a Gallup survey, 55% reported providing care for three or more years.4 Time not working means missed retirement contributions, lost employer matching funds, and weaker compounding interest. 
  2. Caregiving can impact your health 
    Caregivers have higher levels of stress, and providing care takes away time a person would have had to take care of themselves. Seventy-two percent of family caregivers report not going to the doctor as often as they should and 55% say they skip doctor appointments for themselves.5

    Studies also show that caregivers have higher levels of depression and estimates show between 40-70% of caregivers have symptoms of depression.6
  3. Caregiving disproportionately impacts women 
    Women provide the majority of informal care to spouses, family and friends. It is estimated that between 60-75% of caregivers are women. Although men also provide assistance, female caregivers may spend as much as 50% more time providing care than male caregivers.7

    Time out of the workforce is also higher for women, an average of 12 years raising children and caring for an older relative or friend.8

Being a caregiver is a wonderful gift that enhances so many lives, but it can also be a very difficult and stressful job. There are many support services available to caregivers. For more information about being a caregiver, please visit some of the resources listed to the right.


Types of Caregiving

"Basic care" is defined as personal activities like dressing, feeding and bathing, or what are more commnly referred to as activities of daily living (ADLs) or personal care.

"Instrumental activities of daily living" includes activities such as grocery shopping, transportation, and handling finances.

"Financial assistance" is defined as providing at least $500 of support to a parent within the past two years.

Additional Resources

National Alliance for Caregiving
www.caregiving.org

Family Caregiver Alliance
www.caregiver.org

Caregiver Action Network
www.caregiveraction.org

Eldercare Locator
www.eldercare.gov

Administration for Community Living
www.acl.gov

Long-Term Care information
www.longtermcare.gov

AARP Caregiving Resource Center
www.aarp.org/home-family/caregiving

CDC - Stepping into Caregiving
www.cdc.gov/features/caregivers-month/index.html

WISER Women - Caregiving Education
www.wiserwomen.org


1.
www.caregiver.org/selected-long-term-care-statistics
2. 
Society of Actuaries, 2013 Risks and Process of Retirement Survey
3.
The MetLife Study of Caregiving Costs to Working Caregivers, June 2011
4.
Gallup Healthways Wellbeing Survey, Most caregivers Look After Elderly Parent; Invest a Lot of Time, July 2011
5.
Evercare Study of Caregivers in Decline: A Close-Up Look at Health Risks of Caring for a Loved One. National Alliance for Caregiving and Evercare. 2006
6.
www.caregiver.org/caregiver-health
7.
www.caregiver.org/women-and-caregiving-facts-and-figures
8.
Social Security Administration. (2002, February). Women and Social Security (Fact Sheet)



This article was first published in the Autumn 2014 edition of the Retiring Right newsletter. Click here to view other newsletters. Not receiving your newsletter, update your address by completing the Change of Address form.

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