Combine the good news of people living longer and the bad news of the increasing cost of caring for the elderly and you have an economic burden that has a disproportionate impact on mid-career women, according to “Elder caregiving a growing burden to women in mid-career,” an article in The University of Buffalo’s UBNow news website.
Women are statistically more likely to become caregivers and this study found women caregivers were about 8% less likely to work. After providing care, they were 4% less likely to work. The study was presented at the Women Working Longer Conference hosted by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The research also found that with caregiving increasing, more current generations of women are more likely to provide care than women previously, since millions of individuals are providing care for parents or in-laws.
Data was gleaned from the University of Michigan, which has been monitoring participants for more than two decades. The data used in the study of nearly 9,500 people showed that about 33% of the women had provided care for an elderly parent, parent-in-law, or a spouse. That care can entail assisting a loved one with activities of daily living such as eating, bathing, or dressing. The caregiving for parents, peaks at about age 56, and caregiving for a spouse isn’t widespread until the late 60s. In addition, with an aging population, the demand for care is apt to rise. Estimates are that 69% of the elderly will require help with daily activities, and 20% of those people will need assistance for five years or more, with the majority of the help coming from wives and daughters.
With baby boomers retiring, these needs will intersect with the need to retain a productive workforce. The caregiving challenge is growing at a time when more women are in the workforce and are working longer. However, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners reported recently that 10% of caregivers dropped their hours at their jobs due to the demands of caregiving, and about 6% left paid work entirely. In addition, 17% of caregivers take a leave of absence and 4% decline to take a promotion.
A 2011 AARP study from its Public Policy Institute valued the informal care given by family members in 2009 at more than $450 billion (twice the estimated value of formal care). The long-term economic impact of so many women leaving the workforce and losing income is expected to have a significant impact on women, their families and the workplace.
By doing your estate planning when you’re younger and healthier, you can actually minimize some of the burden on your loved ones, especially those who would take responsibility for your care. Speaking with your insurance professional about long-term care insurance could be a place to start, but if you haven’t created an estate plan yet, speak with an experienced estate planning attorney. He or she can help you with some of the legal planning aspects, like selecting an agent under a health care or financial power of attorney. Even more important, however, is communicating the planning you’ve done to loved ones, especially those who have a role in your care or in executing your estate plan.
That’s why we at Family Estate Planning Law Group strongly encourage our clients to hold a Family Care Meeting. This meeting allows clients the opportunity to communicate their wishes and planning to loved ones with a role in the plan. A little planning—and communication—in advance can go a long way toward minimizing any potential burden later on loved ones.
For more information on this and other elder law topics, explore our website and contact us to schedule your consultation today!
Reference: The University of Buffalo Now (November 29, 2016) “Elder caregiving a growing burden to women in mid-career”