Workers who live more than 1 hour away from elderly loved ones could face formidable caregiving challenges.[@@]

The MetLife Mature Market Institute, Westport, Conn., has published survey data supporting that conclusion in a new report on “long-distance caregivers” compiled with the help of the National Alliance for Caregiving, Bethesda, Md.

The organizations hired Zogby International, Utica, N.Y., to poll consumers through the Internet. The researchers gathered responses from 1,130 participants who provide care for someone over age 55 who suffers from “chronic physical, cognitive or mental health problems” and lives at least 1 hour away.

The researchers found that 44% of the caregivers who work have had to rearrange their work schedules to handle their caregiving responsibilities.

The researchers also found that caregiving responsibilities have forced 36% of the caregivers to miss days of work; 25% to come in late or leave early; 12% to take leaves of absence; and 7% to turn down work-related travel.

Between 3% and 5% of the participants said caregiving responsibilities have caused them to lose benefits at work, shift to part-time schedules or consider changing employers.

Only 5% of the long-distance caregivers were the sole care providers for elderly loved ones.

But the solo care providers “were more likely than those who helped others or shared in the care to report that they had to rearrange their work schedule, turn down work-related travel and to report that they had lost benefits at work as a result of their caregiving responsibilities,” the authors of the report write.