Search Ms.Money
Search this site
powered by FreeFind

Taking Care of Mom: The Expectations and Impact of Caregiving on Women

By Christine M. Bauer

Every year on Mother’s Day, families throughout the nation prepare to honor the contributions of mothers. But many women are not only caring for their children, they are also caring for aging parents. Overwhelmingly, women feel it’s a child’s duty to care for aging parents, but few plan for it. And women often don’t realize the emotional and financial toll that caregiving can take. 


Women expect to provide care but haven’t planned for it

In a survey conducted for Securian Financial Group, 60 percent of survey respondents agreed with the statement: Because parents cared for their children when they were young, grown children should take care of their parents. However, 84 percent of those surveyed whose parents needed care indicated that caregiving decisions were not made until care was needed.


Securing or providing care at that point can create crisis situations, forcing family members to take unplanned time off work to provide care or scrambling to find quality care, either at home or in a care facility.


“Most women will face the challenge of caring for their parents at some point in their lives,” said Kim Anderson, product manager, Long-Term Care Insurance, Securian. “Our survey indicates that women can do more to prepare themselves and their families for it -- financially, emotionally and in terms of time demands and where the care will be given.”


Looking ahead, if care is to be provided in their parents’ home, 70 percent of women surveyed whose parents are both living say they are most likely to be the family member providing care. Other family members likely to provide care in their parents’ homes would be their sisters (38 percent) or brothers (23 percent).


“Not every one is a parent, but everyone has a parent,” said Anderson. “This is a universal issue.”


Time off work to give care

Of the women whose parents both are living, approximately 22 percent indicated they expect to take time off of work to care for aging parents, while 52 percent indicated they did not expect to take time off.


Those expectations may not be realistic. A 2004 report by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, revealed that at least six out of 10 employed caregivers adjusted their work schedules because of caregiving responsibilities. An estimated nine percent left the workplace altogether and 10 percent reduced their hours from full to part time.


“It’s important for women to plan, as much as they are able, for this phase of their lives and their parents’ lives,” said Sherri DuMond, National Recruiting Vice President, Securian. “That includes having discussions with family members about their wishes and planning financially so realistic goals can be set.”


Caregiving affects women’s careers and earnings

More than half of family caregivers report that their careers are adversely affected by the caregiving role. According to the Social Security Administration, female workers retiring in 1998 at age 62 had an average of 29 years of service credit for Social Security benefits, while men had 38 years.  In addition, a study conducted by the National Center on Women and Aging found that caregivers lose $659,139 over a lifetime, the sum of reduced salary and reduced retirement benefits.


Concern about care costs

Nearly half of all women in the Securian survey said they are concerned about the quality of care their parents will receive because of the women’s own limited finances. Thirty-two percent said they are concerned about quality of care because of their parents’ limited finances.


“With the annual cost of nursing home care averaging $75,000, this is a legitimate concern,” said DuMond. “The likelihood of needing long-term health care sometime in your life is currently 43 percent and that number is expected to rise as the population ages. It’s important that women explore care issues with their parents and start planning for their own future care needs.”


Women provide and need care

Past age 65, women are twice as likely as men to live alone and three out of four women die single, which underscores the need for women to plan and save for this stage of life.


In the Securian survey, 62 percent of women reported that they are concerned their money will not last through retirement and 57 percent agreed that after meeting current financial obligations, there is little money to put away for retirement.


“This is consistent with other surveys on women and money,” said DuMond. “Women don’t feel they are adequately preparing for retirement and know they need to do more. Now is the time to do something. Women can take charge of their financial futures.”


For more information on the study, visit:


Christine M. Bauer is president of Chris Bauer & Company, a public relations and marketing communications firm in Maple Grove, Minnesota.



Site Map | About | About Tiffany Bass Bukow | Contact Us | Privacy | Terms of Use


Copyright 2006, Inc. All rights reserved. is a trademark of, Inc.