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Toll of caring for elderly increases

The Wall Street Journal, June 14, 2011

A steep rise in people caring for elderly parents is taking a toll on the health and finances of many baby boomers, a new study says. Older caregivers who work and provide care to a parent at the same time are more likely than other workers in their age group to report poor health, with problems including depression and chronic disease. There is evidence they "experience considerable health issues as a result of their focus on caring for others," the report says. The percentage of adult children taking care of their parents has tripled since 1994, with nearly 10 million people who are 50 and older doing so in 2008, according to a new analysis of the U.S. Health and Retirement Study, a bank of economic and health data on people over age 50 that was collected by the University of Michigan. The sample contained 1,112 people age 50-plus with at least one living parent. The financial toll on care providers who are 50 or older averages $303,880 per person in lost wages, pensions and Social Security benefits over their lifetime, due to leaving the work force early to care for a parent, according to the study.