Women Provide the Most Elder Care Despite Changing Roles in the Workplace
Women still bear the brunt of the responsibility of taking care of elderly family members. Although many women find meaning and satisfaction in caring for an elderly relative, caregiving is also time-consuming and stressful – sometimes overwhelmingly so.
Women Are Expected to Provide Most Elder Care
Even though more women are working outside the home now than in the past, women still provide the majority of caregiving. A recent study published in JAMA Neurology found that women provide almost two-thirds of elder care in the United States. At the same time, women comprise almost half of the workforce.
Elder care takes a lot of time – an average of 171 hours per month when the person being cared for has dementia, and an average of 66 hours per month when they do not. The demands of caregiving place stress on the caregiver’s career, with caregivers more likely to lower their career expectations or quit their jobs entirely. The difficulty of caring for an elderly relative, especially one with dementia, combined with the stress of caregivers not having enough time to take care of their own needs, can also take a toll on caregivers’ health. Overburdened caregivers may feel socially isolated and burnt out.
Although women’s roles have changed dramatically over the past few generations, the expectation still remains that the responsibility for taking care of elderly family members should fall on women.
Caregiving Demands Will Increase in the Future
The population of the United States is getting older. By 2030, one in five Americans will be over the age of 65. With more elderly people, the need for caregiving will increase. In the future, as in the past and present, that burden will fall disproportionately on female family members unless cultural expectations change. This increased need for caregiving threatens to undo much of the progress that women have made in the workforce.
The researchers identified several solutions that could help relieve the disproportionate burden on women caregivers:
- Provide more paid leave for caregivers.
- Create workplace policies that enable employees to tell their employers what they need as caregivers.
- Encourage more conversations within families about caregiving roles. Instead of having the caregiving responsibilities automatically falling on the women, couples should discuss what would work best in their particular situations.
When You Need Help with Elder Abuse
Elderly loved ones can suffer from physical, mental, sexual, and financial abuse. If you have a loved one who you suspect is being abused, contact the elder abuse lawyers at Garcia, Artigliere, Medby & Faulkner at 1-800-281-8515 to find out how experienced attorneys can help you and your loved one.