Stressed woman (Photo: iStock) (Photo: iStock)

Providing care to a parent or spouse takes a toll on the caregiver in many ways — not just physically and emotionally, but financially, too. In fact, it can hinder their very careers.

According to a GAO report, approximately 68% of working parental and spousal caregivers said they were subject to at least one of eight different effects on their jobs because of providing care to a loved one.

The report, drawing on data from the 2015 National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP sponsored study “Caregiving in the U.S.,” found that more than half — 56% — of working caregivers said they had to come in late, leave early or take time off during the day to meet their caregiving responsibilities.

But the effects of caregiving went much further than that, even driving some out of the workplace altogether.

While 17% of parental and spousal caregivers said they had to transition from full-time to part-time work, or cut back their hours, 16% said they took a leave of absence. Six percent were warned at work about their performance or attendance; 6% gave up working entirely and 6% retired early. Five percent turned down a promotion and 3% lost any job benefits.

The workplace was harder on spousal caregivers than on parental ones, with 81% of spousal caregivers saying they’d been subject to one or more of the eight job impacts — compared with 65% of parental caregivers. For instance, among caregivers who went from full-time to part-time work or cut their hours, 29% of spousal caregivers said they had to do so, compared with 15% of parental caregivers.

Earlier research, says the report, indicates that some older workers “felt forced to retire for professional or personal reasons and that individuals approaching retirement often have to retire for reasons they did not anticipate, including caregiving responsibilities.” It adds that older workers losing jobs can end up with lower retirement income, having to claim Social Security benefits before they originally intended (thus lowering the benefit amount) and actually running out of retirement savings.

One more handicap imposed by caregiving: spouses aged 59 to 66 who provided care “worked approximately 20% fewer annual hours than married individuals of the same age who did not provide spousal care.”

— Check out Family Caregiving Is a Long-Term Job: Report on ThinkAdvisor.