The Many Faces of Caregivers: A Close-Up Look at Caregiving and Its Impacts

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Transamerica Institute and its Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS) conducted a caregiver survey of 3,000+ non-professional family caregivers nationwide in 2017. This caregiver research provides a better understanding of caregivers’ duties and the impact caregiving has on their personal health and well-being, employment, finances and retirement preparations.

Below are resources for caregivers from helpful tips, podcast episode, and detailed research findings. 

Seven Tips for Caregivers to Help Improve Their Own Health and Financial Well-being

1. Take care of your own health and wellness. 

Your physical health is as important as that of the care recipient. Eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising could help you have more energy to tackle your caregiving responsibilities. These can also help reduce stress and improve your mood. Try to find time to give yourself breaks from your caregiving and have alone time. Remember your own medical checkups and let your doctor know of any changes to your health.

2. Enlist others to share the caregiving responsibilities or help you with non-caregiving responsibilities.

Make caregiving a team effort by asking for help from other family members or friends, or seeking out community resources, such as adult day programs or transportation services. If employed, explore whether your employer offers backup care benefits. Consider seeking help for your day-to-day responsibilities that caregiving makes difficult, as it may be more practical to find help with those activities.

3. If employed, strive to find ways to balance caregiving duties with employment. 

take steps to minimize any negative impacts to your resume, income, and benefits. Identify and carefully consider all of your options before making any decisions to reduce job responsibilities or quit your job. Once your caregiving duties end, it can be extremely difficult to jump back into the workforce and at the same level of pay, especially if you have been unemployed for a long period of time.

4. Research whether your employer offers any programs or benefits to help caregivers.

For example, more and more employers are now offering flexible work arrangements including flexible hours, telecommuting, compressed workweeks and other options that can make it easier for caregivers to fulfill their job responsibilities while caregiving. Many employers offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which may include referrals to counseling services and support groups for caregivers as well as long-term care services for care recipients.

5. Learn about the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). 

FMLA is a federal law that requires covered employers to provide their employees with protected, unpaid leave for qualified medical and family reasons. It can help employees balance their job with caring for a family member with a serious health condition. FMLA allows 12 weeks of unpaid leave from an employer in a 12-month time period. To learn more about FMLA and whether you are eligible, visit and consider consulting your employer’s HR department.

6. Keep your own long-term financial security top of mind.

As a caregiver, it is especially important to budget, keep track of expenses, and save for the future. Save for retirement either through your employer’s 401(k) or similar plan or in an IRA – and avoid taking loans and/or early withdrawals from those savings.

7. Explore programs that provide financial assistance to caregivers.

Some states have programs, such as Cash and Counseling, for Medicaid recipients that the care recipient can use to pay caregivers. If the care recipient has a long-term care insurance policy, research if it enables you to receive payments. Also, find out what certifications or other requirements you may need for payments. You may also be able to claim the care recipient as a dependent for tax purposes.