By: Paul Lorah
Women serve as caregivers the majority of time for a spouse, parent or in-law.
Some basic facts:
- It is estimated that 66% of all family caregivers are women;
- The annual value is estimated at $188 billion dollars;
- Women spend 50% more time as a family caregiver than men.
A recent study shows that the out-of-pocket costs for a patient with dementia is the highest of any other disease mostly due to the need for personal caregivers which is not covered by Medicare. Because of that, women are juggling their time as family caregivers for those who cannot afford to hire someone. In addition. providing care to someone with dementia increases the levels of distress and depression higher than caring for someone without dementia.
As stated in another recent article we published titled " Is Caring for Aging Parents Forcing Women To Leave The Workforce" women are being forced to take time off or leave work completely in order to care for the family member.
The financial impact on women caregivers is substantial. It reduces work hours by as much as 40% [or loss of work completely] and results in a financial loss of over $300,000 [based on lost wages, social security benefits and other retirement benefits].
In 2004, a study conducted by Rice University found that women who are family caregivers are 2.5 times more likely to live in poverty and 5 times more likely to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Physical & Mental Impacts
Moreover, the mental and physical effects of family caregiving have been well documented. Women suffer from Increased stress, anxiety and depression as effects of caregiving. When caring for a spouse, women are nearly 5 times more likely to suffer depressive or anxious symptoms as non-caregiver spouses. Additional effects may include high blood pressure, hypertension, less time spent on preventative care and a higher risk of coronary heart disease.
So what does all of this mean?
It is evident that women are at great risk when providing care to a loved one both financially as well as mentally and physically. In addition, there are long-term effects as well such as a higher death rate. An article by Jennifer Caputo, was written in the Journal of Marriage and Family discusses the long term health effects of family caregivers.
Author Paul Lorah is a Medicaid and Long Term Care Planning expert who has authored such books as "Planning and Paying for Long Term Care' and "How to Get Medicaid to Pay for Your Long Term Care Costs".