Nearly Two-Thirds of Caregivers Say Duties Affect Their Careers

Lost income, passed up promotions among the professional consequences
A senior woman holding a cane

Serving as a caregiver to a family member or other loved one can take an emotional toll, but a new round of data from a caregiving study shows it can have implications for one’s career, as well.

Financial services company Northwestern Mutual conducted a study on the financial impact of caregiving, surveying 1,400 adults who have either previously served as a caregiver or were currently doing so. Caregivers are those who provide assistance to someone who has a serious health condition and is unable to perform certain functions on their own.

The study shed light on just how much of an impact caregiving can have on one’s professional life. A majority of caregivers (66%) are both working and serving as a caregiver for someone, and 62% said caregiving duties impacted their work.

Those who are in their prime working years are more likely to experience the professional consequences of caregiving. Among respondents, 75% of Gen Xers and 73% of millennials said they juggle caregiving duties with a job. On top of that, 69% of Gen Xers and 70% of millennials reported that caregiving had an impact on their careers. (According to Pew Research, Gen Xers are defined as ages 39-54, while millennials are ages 23-38.)

As a result of caregiving...

  • 20% said they needed a more flexible schedule
  • 19% have had to take days off work
  • 19% have had to change their work schedules or shifts

For some, the long-term consequences can be costly:

  • 12% lost income or saw an impact to their long-term earning potential
  • 11% had to pass up promotions or other opportunities for career advancement
  • 10% had to cut back on work responsibilities

Men appear to be more professionally impacted by caregiving: Among respondents, 76% of male caregivers balanced caregiving with either a full-time or part-time job or self-employment, compared to 59% of female caregivers. Likewise, 67% of male caregivers said caregiving had impacted their career compared to 58% of women caregivers.

When it comes to workload, 50% of caregivers said they were employed full-time, with many of them holding a traditional 9-to-5 job. Among respondents…

  • 35% worked full time weekdays with traditional hours
  • 10% worked part-time
  • 9% worked full time with flexible hours
  • 6% worked full time on nights and/or weekends
  • 6% freelanced or were self-employed

In the process of balancing career duties and caregiving duties, some respondents reported outsourcing — and paying for — personal services. For example, 23% outsource home cleaning, 23% outsource personal errands such as grocery shopping and 21% outsource meal preparation.

While it’s difficult to know how you may be impacted by caregiving costs and duties in the future, there are steps you can take to be more prepared for what may come. Consider taking out long-term care insurance, as it could help pay for certain caregiving duties to be done professionally. You can also explore remote working opportunities that might allow you to more easily juggle caregiving and professional duties.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.

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