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The Caregiving Crisis: How It’s Burning Through Your Earnings

by SDSCF

As an employee or working professional, you might think the caregiving crisis is just another corporate issue that doesn’t really impact your daily life. But imagine a raging wildfire spreading through your workplace and community, threatening to burn away jobs, financial security, and your ability to care for loved ones when they need it most. This is the looming reality created by America’s mushrooming caregiver shortage.

By 2030, when all Baby Boomers will be 65 or older, a perfect storm is brewing – a severe lack of paid caregivers colliding with millions of employees being forced to quit their careers to become unpaid family caregivers themselves. For businesses, the costs could be catastrophic talent losses, sapped productivity, and revenue declines totaling $290 billion annually in economic fallout, according to projections.

But it’s individual workers and their families who will endure the most scorching consequences of this caregiving crisis. The facts show over 53 million Americans currently juggle full-time jobs while also spending 24 hours per week tending to elderly, sick, or disabled relatives. That’s the equivalent of a second part-time job in unpaid caregiving duties!

As the population ages, you or your loved ones will likely join the ranks of these “employee caregivers,” providing backbreaking levels of care with little support. The costs? Increased stress, higher health risks, less financial security from cutting back hours or quitting jobs entirely, and sacrificing quality time with your family. Over 10 million millennials aged 18 to 34 already suffer these burdens as unpaid caregivers.

Women bear the worst of this crisis. Despite comprising under half the workforce, mothers and daughters provide nearly 60% of unpaid eldercare. This perpetuates the gender wage gap as more women are forced to exit careers to become full-time family caregivers.

Of course, the caregiving crunch also impacts you as a working professional even if not currently in a caregiver role. AARP estimates that providing emergency backup family care costs U.S. employers over $25 billion yearly in lost productivity from employees arriving late, leaving early or being distracted at work. Those lost productivity costs get passed on as higher prices for goods and services we all consume.

Paid professional caregiving jobs have become notoriously difficult roles to fill due to low wages averaging just $13/hour with minimal benefits. This worsens caregiver shortages and quality of care concerns that negatively impact all of us as we age.

Perhaps most critically, the U.S. lacks universal family leave policies to let workers take time off to care for newborns, aging parents or others needing temporary assistance. A mere 19% of private sector workers currently get paid family leave, ranking America behind nearly every other developed nation in supporting families during times of caregiver need.

The caregiving wildfire is raging, fueled by our nation’s rapidly aging population and archaic policies that fail to value caring for our loved ones adequately. While corporations may suffer burnt profits and talent losses, it’s working individuals and families who will feel the searing personal and financial impacts most acutely.

The time to speak up is now and prioritize family-friendly workplace benefits, living wages for caregivers, technologies to ease caregiving burdens, and national paid family leave policies. Otherwise, we all risk being consumed by this crisis as the caregiving workforce and family support structures we rely on go up in flames.

Don’t be blinded by today’s clear skies. The caregiving wildfire is coming with potentially catastrophic consequences for you, your career and ability to care for loved ones. Let’s take action now to extinguish this crisis before we’re all burned.

The San Diego Seniors Community Foundation calls for a collective effort to address the caregiving crisis. We urge CEOs, community leaders, policymakers, and the public to recognize the critical importance of caregiving and to invest in building a robust support system for both caregivers and seniors.

We emphasize the need for urgent action to implement family-friendly workplace policies, increase caregiver wages, and extend healthcare benefits to include elder care services. We invite everyone to contribute to this cause by advocating for policy changes, volunteering, and providing financial support to help create a community that values and supports its oldest members. This call to action is our rallying cry for a community-wide commitment to turn the tide on the caregiving crisis and ensure a sustainable future for all generations.

Please contact us via email at info@sdscf.org or sign up for our newsletter, we would love to hear from you and help us help all San Diegans age well.

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