Caregiving Becoming Full Time Second Job

May 3, 2004 ( is becoming a second job for approximately 4.4 million Americans who are providing unpaid care to another adult, 59% of whom either work or have worked while providing care.

The large majority (83%) of caregivers are helping relatives.

This “second job” has affected regular work life for 62% of those caregivers surveyed for the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and AARP who have had to make some adjustments at work, from reporting late to work to giving up work entirely. Seventeen percent of caregivers provide 40 or more hours of care per week.

The job can also be a financial burden; the most burdened caregivers of those other than spouses report spending $437 monthly in expenses related to care. The value of family caregiving to society is estimated at $257 billion annually, the survey reports.

The survey classifies caregivers as individuals 18 and older who help another person 18 and older with at least one of 13 tasks that caregivers commonly do on an unpaid basis, including helping perform health care activities, manage finances, shop for groceries, or do housework.

Although a typical caregiver is female, 46 years old, married, has some college experience, and provides care to a woman age 50 or older, about 39% of caregivers are men, the survey reports, with 60% of those working full-time. However, although both men and women are providing care, women are more likely to provide care at the higher levels.

The typical care recipient is a widowed female, according to the survey. The majority of recipients are 50 and older (79%), with an average age of those age 50 and older 75 years. The most common ailments for those age 50 and older are heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s or other mental confusion. Additionally, the average age of care recipients ages 18-49 is 33 years, the survey says.

The most demanding caregiving responsibilities are carried by 30% of caregivers who are therefore more likely to report physical strain, emotional stress and financial hardship as a result of their caregiving responsibilities compared to caregivers with less demanding roles.