Family caregiving is a shared experience across people of all age groups, cultures, incomes, and education levels in the United States. Roughly 41 million Americans are serving as a caregiver of an older adult. Many family caregivers, sometimes called informal or unpaid caregivers, are relatives, friends, and neighbors who provide ongoing assistance to adults aged 50 and older with health or functional needs.
In addition to family caregiving responsibilities, nearly two-thirds of family caregivers maintain full- or part-time employment. Some challenges working caregivers face include needing to arrive at work late, leave early, take time off to provide care, or even quit their job or retire early, which can lead to significant financial strain. Female caregivers are more likely to take a less demanding job and give up work entirely to focus on caregiving responsibilities. Individuals trying to balance family caregiving and employment often report elevated stress, as many devote numerous hours to care and daily living tasks for their loved one (e.g., dressing, bathing, eating). Stress can lead to poorer work performance and less time caring for ones’ own health needs, which can potentially result in mental or physical illness for the family caregiver.