-Dr. Kathy Johnson, PhD, CMC
A recent study conducted in the United States shows a majority of adults who care for their elderly parents or relatives. Individuals aged 48 onwards segregate their lives between working and care giving. The survey, titled ‘Caregiving in the U. S. 2009’, was sponsored by the AARP and The National Alliance for Care giving and funded by The MetLife Foundation. The survey concluded; 86% Americans, their intermediate age being 48, care for a relative, two-thirds of which are women. Giving around 19 hours a week to their loved ones, while simultaneously handling work and running a household. 36% of these care for a parent, supporting and caring for about four and a half to five years.
According to Elinor Grinzler of the AARC one of the most prominent changes seen in the survey is the effect of care giving on regular work. The survey showed results with two-thirds of caregivers who either go late, leave early, or take time off from work. With 20% who take a leave of absence, 12% who work part-time or have taken on less demanding jobs, 6% who refused a promotion, 6% consequently lost job benefits, 3% retired early, and 9% who quit their jobs to care for parents or relatives.
Kathleen Ballweg, a flight attendant based in New York, had to take leave to tend to her father who had Parkinson’s disease. After taking a 6 month leave of absence, she worked part-time shuttling back and forth. She now cares for her mother, who has also contracted Parkinson’s, working part-time for the airline. Kathleen’s sister has also moved back to Wisconsin to help out with caring for their mother. This is turning out to be a growing trend among American families, with more members of the family assisting with care to avoid additional investments like assisted living.
A majority of individuals who are care givers do not consider it an adversity. The survey showed 57% people in excellent to good health with 23% of fair to poor health. However, 53% stated their responsibilities isolate them from friends and families and more likely to be emotionally stressed.
The survey also asked of care for disabled children, the report shows an astounding one of seven individuals who care for a disabled child. While caregivers for the elderly do not face many problems with coordinating healthcare, 40% of caregivers for children find it relatively difficult to coordinate healthcare while managing care at home and at school.