By Cristin Harris Rigg, CFP®, CDFA™

While childcare options enabling women to remain part of the paid U.S. workforce continue to expand, multiple studies reveal much less support for working women who, without pay, care for aging adults (most often their parents).

Assuming the role of an unpaid caregiver can adversely affect an individual’s employability, earnings and long-term financial security. Women, who comprise almost 70% of all U.S. unpaid caregivers, need to pay particular attention to maintaining their own fiscal health while caring for loved ones.

Caring for an aging generation
Studies show that the Baby Boomer population remains large as it ages. While these adults are living longer, many of them have complex and expensive medical needs, and this trend is expected to continue for decades. A recent report¹ notes that the population of those age 65 and older in the U.S. is expected to increase by more than 100% during the next 30 years, to an estimated 86 million.

This means the health challenges of this group will require sustained attention from medical professionals and caregivers. For a variety of reasons, much of the caregiving will continue to fall to family members—particularly women. However, assuming caregiver responsibilities can negatively impact a woman’s long-term job and financial health in ways that include:

    • Limited career growth opportunities
    • Reduced wages and benefits
    • Lost investment and/or retirement savings

Workplaces also report lower revenues and decreased productivity when a female employee becomes an unpaid caretaker.

Advanced planning for unpaid caregiving workFinancialCosts...Group of women-Harris Financial Advisors
Experts suggest women consider the following² to offset the potentially negative effects of unpaid caregiving duties on their finances:

    • Talk with aging parents about their long-term care plans
    • Learn about potential tax breaks for unpaid caregivers
    • Determine if their employer offers workplace benefits for caregivers
    • Develop a “caregiver network” of co-workers and colleagues who have similar duties
    • Prioritize their own long-term financial strategy

Given the changing and uncertain landscape of unpaid caregiving, women should understand what the realities of an aging U.S. population could mean for them personally, professionally and financially.

Harris Financial Advisors offers advance planning strategies to help women protect their own financial health. Continue the conversation by contacting us today.

 

1. Pesce, Nicole Lyn. “The heartbreaking stories of some of America’s 43.5 million unpaid adult caregivers.” Marketwatch, 15 February 2019, originally published July 2018. www.marketwatch.com/story/the-heartbreaking-stories-of-some-of-americas-435-million-unpaid-adult-caregivers-2018-07-20

2. Rapacon, Stacy. “Bearing the Financial Burden of Caregiving.” U.S. News & World Report, 28 November 2017. money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/family-finance/articles/2017-11-28/managing-the-costs-of-caregiving