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Family Caregivers Face Major Financial Burdens, Increased Stress, and Work Struggles

New Caring.com survey reveals major financial and emotional costs of caregiving

San Mateo, CA, February 3, 2011 "“ With the population of America continuing to age, and 2011 bringing the highest percentage ever of U.S. citizens above the age of 65, there is now a greater need for caregivers than ever before. A new survey from Caring.com, the leading online destination for family caregivers, has revealed that the majority of caregivers are deeply impacted by the financial and emotional costs of caring for their loved ones.

Caring for a loved one takes a heavy toll on the caregivers' work life, as more than one-third of all survey respondents indicated that their work situation was impacted by either having to quit their job, retire early, reduce hours, or take a leave of absence. Combined with the 37 percent of respondents who aren't working, the survey shows that a startling 74 percent of caregivers have either had to change their job situation or are not working. These results, coupled with the findings that 42 percent are spending more than $5,000 a year on caring and over 60 percent are concerned about the impact that providing care is having on their savings, clearly demonstrate that the financial toll of caregiving is a major issue for the millions of Americans who care for their loved ones.

Caregiving also results in measurable emotional costs. The survey indicates that caring for a loved one is the number-one source of stress among respondents (69 percent), ahead of the downturn in the economy and other family medical problems. In terms of family relationships, more than a quarter said their relationships had been negatively impacted by providing care. However, 75 percent say their caregiver role is a source of pride because they're making a difference for their loved one.

"As Americans age and live longer, many continue to live at home or move in with relatives -- by choice or as a result of tough economic times -- requiring care from family members," said Andy Cohen, co-founder and CEO of Caring.com. "These survey results illustrate the significant impact that caring for an aging parent, spouse, or relative is having, as well as the opportunity to provide more support to this growing population now 43 million strong."

Additional survey results:

  • Caregivers perform a variety of tasks for their loved ones, including shopping, talking with doctors, and obtaining and administering medications. Fifty-eight percent spend more than 10 hours per week providing caregiving service, while 22 percent spend more than 40 hours per week.

  • Many respondents represent the "Sandwich Generation" -- 27 percent have children under age 25 living at home. Caregivers in the Sandwich Generation are more likely to experience stress from their jobs and relationships.

  • Sixty percent of respondents live with the loved one for whom they provide care. Half of family caregivers surveyed have searched online for a senior living facility or in-home care.

Among those surveyed were caregivers whose loved ones have Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia. In October 2010, Caring.com launched Steps & Stages, the first-ever interactive guide, support system, and customized e-newsletter that delivers practical, stage-appropriate advice for Alzheimer's or dementia caregiving. Steps & Stages is now helping more than 10,000 family caregivers navigate the overwhelming Alzheimer's journey, from assessing a loved one's stage to understanding what symptoms to expect and how to cope with them, week by week. This free resource also connects caregivers whose loved ones are at a similar stage of the disease, providing peer support and learning in online Stage Groups.

In total, close to 1,000 family caregivers participated in the Caring.com Usage and Attitude Survey in November 2010.