The Many Faces of Caregivers: A Close-Up Look at Caregiving and Its Impacts

The Many Faces of Caregivers: A Close-Up Look at Caregiving and Its Impacts
is Transamerica Institute's first-ever collaboration between its Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS) and Center for Health Studies (TCHS). Transamerica Institute’s survey of 3,000+ non-professional family caregivers nationwide provides a better understanding of caregivers’ duties and the impact caregiving has on their personal health and well-being, employment, finances and retirement preparations.

In honor of National Family Caregivers Month, we will be published, Ten Alarming Facts About Family Caregivers and Seven Ways to Address Them, which offers tips to help caregivers. Most recently, we published a 28-page guide, "Becoming a Caregiver: A Comprehensive Guide for Caregivers," which expands on the tips sheet and offers extensive resources for caregivers including a needs assessment tool. These were developed based on the findings of our caregiver research which uncovered many unmet needs among caregivers.

This caregiver research offers in-depth analysis and demographic portraits of caregivers by employment status, gender, generation, household income, ethnicity, whether they are the primary caregiver, and whether they volunteered or not to be a caregiver. The survey also offers essential detailed findings about care recipients, including their health status and financial situation.

Key Findings:
  • Daily Lives and Duties
    • 74 percent of caregivers have been providing care for one or more years and 36 percent of caregivers spend 100+ hours per month providing care.
    • Among caregivers who perform medical/nursing-related tasks, only about half (54 percent) say they learned these tasks from hospital or doctor’s office personnel.
  • Precarious Employment
    • Caregivers are juggling jobs and caregiving duties with more than half (52 percent) being either employed full-time (39 percent) or part-time (13 percent).
    • 28 percent of caregivers who are employed or have been employed during their time as a caregiver have experienced adverse actions taken by their employers as a result of their caregiving responsibilities.
  • Financial Implications
    • Caregivers spend $150 per month (median) out-of-pocket to cover expenses for their care recipient. Three-quarters (75 percent) do not receive any form of payment for their work.
    • While 56 percent of caregivers self-describe their financial well-being as excellent or good, caregivers have saved only $68,000 in total household retirement accounts (estimated median). Almost 18 percent say that they have taken a loan, hardship withdrawal and/or early withdrawal from their retirement accounts as a result of becoming a caregiver.
  • Health Implications
    • While 74 percent of caregivers say they are in excellent/good health, 17 percent indicate their general health has gotten worse/declined since becoming a caregiver.
    • 55 percent of caregivers say their caregiving duties leave them physically or emotionally exhausted.