Working Mothers Caring for Those with Dementia: A Startling Report

We know there are more women than men with dementia, namely because women live longer and dementia is more likely to occur in older people. But do we think enough about the fact that the majority of dementia caregivers are also women?

Let’s take it a step further. Among women caregivers, do we realize that a disquieting number of them are also working mothers?

Probably not. Yet according to a new report released by the Working Mother Research Institute, almost 30% of women caring for someone with dementia have children under the age of 18, and 46% are employed. Imagine the kind of balancing act it takes to juggle parenting, caregiving, and a career.

(c) Boris Peterka
(c) Boris Peterka

Wait, I’m preaching to the choir here. Many of you reading this blog already know what this is like, because you live it every day.

Still, I want you to know about this report just as much as I want those who don’t identify with your situation to be aware of these startling findings. I want you to know that somebody is noticing your struggles. I want you to know that somebody wants to do something about it.

I want you to know that somebody cares.

You can find the full report here, and a summary of the survey’s findings here. Below are some of the results that disturbed me the most. Among working mothers who are also dementia caregivers:

  • Fifty-one percent had to alter their work schedules in order to accommodate caregiving responsibilities.
  • Among those who did not adjust their work schedules, 40% reported this was because they couldn’t afford to do so, their job didn’t allow for flexibility, or that their employer didn’t approve their request.
  • Thirty-nine percent passed up a more demanding job opportunity or promotion.
  • Forty-nine percent feel overwhelmed.
  • Sixty-five percent have not had a vacation in the past year.
  • Forty-four percent have used their own personal income to cover caregiving expenses.
  • Fifty-five percent are not saving for retirement.

These findings remind me of my recent call for workplace eldercare programs. Do employers not see the imminent need for programs to be implemented that address this segment of their workforce?

Please forward this report widely. If your workplace does not have an eldercare program that provides employees with flexible schedules, caregiver paid time off, educational programs, and linkage to resources such as geriatric care managers, respite care, and elder law attorneys, please ask your human resources department to consider this report a call to action.

The Alzheimer’s Association served as a knowledge partner on this survey, which gives me confidence that the right questions were asked. Now let’s hope the right answers are found.

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