As previous studies have shown, adult children are typically the ones who take on caregiving duties for parents or other elderly relatives.
A full two-thirds of all caregivers are female. And most of these adult children are daughters.
While caregiving is the ultimate way of helping a loved one through difficult times, it also is a demanding duty to take on. Caregivers face stress and loneliness, and too few seek the support of organizations developed to help them, such as Hope Grows.
Daughters, however, face a specific set of issues when they take on the role of caregiver. A new study shows that one of the most difficult aspects is balancing caregiving with a job.
Daughters in the Workplace
Policies in the United States have focused to an extent on helping working women as they have children. Those include mandating that companies offer a maternity leave policy and tax credits for dependent children.
However, little work has been done to help older women who must take care of their aging parents. That is the focus of a new study, called Daughters in the Workplace. Researchers surveyed 1,100 women in the U.S. and Canada. All of them were between the ages of 45 to 60 and acted as caregivers to at least one parent.
Some of the findings from the survey included the following.
- 83 percent said caregiving has created more strain on their ability to successfully manage a work/life balance
- 50 percent said they often feel that they must choose between being a good daughter or a good employee
- 25 percent reported that their workplace has a stigma attached to taking time away from work to take care of parents
- 25 percent said their quality of work has suffered
- Caregiving daughters have been providing care for an average of 6 years and spent between 13 and 14 hours a week on caregiving duties
- The average daughter spends 29 percent of her vacation and other paid leave time providing caregiving
More Flexibility Needed
One factor mentioned by caregiver Maggie McClane, who spoke to Forbes about caregiving daughters, is that employers don’t often offer the flexibility in work schedules that could benefit caregivers.
She said flexible work hours “would have been tremendously helpful for me.” McClane, 55, spent years providing care for her father because her mother suffers from Alzheimer’s and is almost completely blind.
When her father died, McClane, a paralegal, decided to quit her job and provide her mother around the clock care. However, she expects to have to return to work down the road. This is because because she has no income and wants to eventually put money away for retirement.
Like many daughter caregivers, McClane said it has been the right thing to do because her mother deserved the same loving care that she gave to her children earlier in life.
The Family Caregivers Act, which has not been passed by Congress, would address some of the issues caregivers face. This is inclusive of mandating policies in the workplace that support caregivers.
Until that time, women who provide caregiving to their elderly parents will continue to seek and hope for a supportive workplace.