Caregivers face unprecedented challenges, impacting overall well-beingA new Guardian study suggests that expanding the definition of caregiving is critical to supporting America’s caregivers. Download the complete report here.
NEW YORK, Dec. 20, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — A new study by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America® (Guardian) finds that as the need for caregivers in the United States grows, so does the mental, physical, and financial stressors impacting them.
The new report, titled “Standing Up and Stepping In: A Modern Look at Caregivers in the US,” is based on responses from Guardian’s Annual Workplace Benefits Study. The study shows that caregivers self-report significantly lower mental, physical, and financial well-being scores than their non-caregiver counterparts.
Driving this decline is a growing number of full-time employed American workers pulling double duty, with approximately a quarter (22%) of workers splitting their time between their full-time jobs and caring for others. Further, not only are more working Americans taking on caregiving duties, they are also dedicating more time to caregiving—up to three times more. In 2023, for example, caregivers spent an average of 26 hours per week providing care, up from an average of nine hours in 2020.
“The first step to better supporting caregivers is to recognize caregivers for who they are. As an employer, that means expanding our understanding of who is a caregiver to include anyone providing care for a family member or friend, regardless of their age, physical ability, or health status,” said Stacey Hoin, Chief Human Resources Officer at Guardian. “Irrespective of who someone is caring for, our data shows that most caregivers share the same needs and could use similar support from their employer. By taking an inclusive approach, we can better support all caregivers and ensure they have the comprehensive benefits and flexibility they need to do their best work—both in their professional and personal lives.”
Supporting All Caregivers In The Workplace
Whether caring for a parent, spouse or partner, child, or someone else, there are universal caregiving needs.
The study found that parents of children without special needs—who often don’t traditionally self-identify as caregivers—are on par with traditionally defined caregivers when it comes to wishing their employer did more to address work/life balance (38% and 37%, respectively). They also face similar challenges around their mental and physical health, including keeping up with their own routine doctor’s appointments and checkups (37% for both).
Taking an inclusive approach to supporting all caregivers also means recognizing there is an increasing number of younger caregivers in the workplace. The study found that while caregivers have traditionally been defined as members of the “Sandwich Generation,” there are now more Millennial (38%) than Gen-X (36%) caregivers. As Millennials also represent the dominant generation in the workforce today, the number of full-time working caregivers is likely only going to grow.
Improving Mind, Body, And Wallet™ Wellness
The study found that, among all working Americans, caregivers have some of the lowest overall well-being scores.
When looking at mental health specifically, 77% of caregivers say they have poor mental health, with 40% noting that their caregiving responsibilities negatively impact their stress levels. In fact, caregivers are 52% more likely to experience anxiety, depression, or other mental health conditions as compared to non-caregivers.
Caregivers don’t fare much better when it comes to physical wellness, with just one in four saying they have good physical health. As a result, the study found that caregivers are two times more likely to experience their own disability-related workplace absence as compared to non-caregivers.
Equally concerning is the financial burden facing caregivers. According to the study, 40% of caregivers say their care-related responsibilities negatively impact their household’s financial security. Part of this impact could stem from the fact that, per the report, caregivers are two times more likely to experience a layoff as compared to non-caregivers, and that 20% say their caregiving responsibilities have limited their career growth or job opportunities.
Helping Caregivers Provide The Best Care
The need for caregiving in the United States is only going to grow. As more working Americans take on such caregiving duties, there is an increased urgency to expand the definition of who is traditionally considered a caregiver. It’s also imperative that working caregivers have access to workplace resources and supportive benefits, from access to mental health services and a caregiver concierge to flexible work arrangements and back-up care. Ultimately, when caregivers feel supported and able to care for themselves, they are better able to care for others.
For more information about supporting caregivers and to view the complete report, visit Guardian’s Caregiving in America, Statistics on Family Caregivers and Beyond.
About the Standing Up and Stepping In: A Modern Look at Caregivers in the US Report
Standing Up and Stepping In: A modern Look at Caregivers in the US is based on results from Guardian’s 12th Annual Workplace Benefits Study, which was fielded in January and February of 2023. The Workplace Benefits Study consists of two online surveys: one among 2,000 benefits decision-makers (employers) and another among 2,000 full-time working Americans (employees), allowing us to explore benefits issues from both perspectives. Of the full-time working Americans surveyed, this included an oversample of 416 self-identified caregivers. Survey data collection and tabulation were managed for Guardian by Zeldis Research, an independent market research firm located in Ewing, New Jersey.
Guardian makes a difference in the lives of people when they need us most. With more than 160 years of stability and fiscal integrity, we are a trusted resource to millions of consumers, helping them prepare and plan for a bright future and recover and thrive in times of unexpected loss. We believe in inspiring well-being across mind, body, and wallet, and in driving value beyond dividends. We invest in our colleagues, are building a progressive and inclusive culture, and are helping to uplift communities through thoughtful social and environmental programs. Guardian, which is based in NYC, is a leading provider of life, disability, dental, and other benefits, and has received accolades for its culture and service. Our colleagues and financial representatives serve with care and experience, and our commitments rest on a strong financial foundation, which at year-end 2022 included $11 billion in capital and largest dividend of $1.26 billion in the company’s history. For more information, visit guardianlife.com or follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.