October 12, 2010

Long-Term Caregivers Lose Money, Opportunities: Genworth Study

Toll on family caregivers is expensive, heavy and stressful

Anyone who’s been a caregiver for someone in need of long-term care already knows this is true, but a new study released Sept. 30 by Genworth Financial (NYSE:GNW) confirms it: caregivers suffer from stress, lose job opportunities and sometimes jobs as well, and may have more disputes with other family members.

Beyond Dollars: The True Impact of Long Term Caring looks at a number of factors faced by family caregivers: the impact of providing care on their financial well-being (savings and retirement contributions); their professional lives (lost job opportunities, increased absenteeism; lost time at work); and the pressure on relationships (less time with family members; tension between caregiver and spouse, siblings, and children). The toll, as might be expected, is high: more than four out of every 10 primary caregivers experience an increase in stress with their spouse and nearly three in ten report stress with siblings.

According to Colleen Goldhammer, senior vice president of financial institutions distribution at Genworth, "Too often the cost of long-term care is measured simply in dollar terms, not taking into account the many other ways that it can impact a family.” In a statement, Goldhammer called the new study “one of the most comprehensive studies of its kind, uncovering many of the often overlooked costs associated with a long-term care event."

According to the study, there’s also a “ripple effect” in the “circle of care” that forms around the family member who is being cared for. This amounts to a “wide contingency of family members impacted by the caring needs of a loved one” that includes the primary caregiver, who is the hands-on carer; the secondary caregiver, who also gets hit with the impact of care although not in the position of taking care of the family member every day; and the family members, “including siblings, spouses, children and in-laws.” Genworth says, “The research shows that emotional and financial impact of long-term care on these secondary caregivers can be substantial, and should not be underestimated.”

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