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As Workplaces Re-Open, Family Caregivers Worry about Infection Risks and Balancing Their Responsibilities

New AARP Research Finds Most Caregivers Reported Increased Stress and Time Spent Caring for Loved Ones Due to COVID-19

Caregiver

New research from AARP explores how the pandemic affected people who are both working and providing care to a loved one, and their concerns about returning to pre-pandemic routines. COVID impacted many working caregivers’ load, leading to increased stress for about four in five caregivers. More than three in five reported that they were spending more time caring for their loved one. When asked about the next 12 months, two-thirds of all working caregivers expect some or a great deal of difficulty balancing both of their roles.

The AARP study found that just over half of working family caregivers were offered new benefits during the pandemic, including flexible hours (65%), paid leave (34%) and mental health or self-care resources (37%). About half of those surveyed were able to telework due to COVID; by early July, 22% were still working from home full time and 30% were working from home at least part time. For those who could work from home, nearly nine in 10 said it helped them balance work and care responsibilities – and 75% are worried about how they will manage when their pre-pandemic schedules resume.

“Employers would be wise to consider how benefits like paid leave and flexible hours can help the one in six workers who are also caring for a loved one,” said Alison Bryant, Senior Vice President, AARP Research. “Living through the pandemic was challenging for working family caregivers – while some were helped by new workplace benefits and flexibility, the vast majority are worried about how to balance both roles going forward. Our research opens a window into how the pandemic changed the workplace and what working caregivers are concerned about in the coming year.”

As offices and other in-person workplaces begin to re-open, many caregivers reported concerns that they would bring the virus home to their loved one (63%) or contract COVID at work (53%). About three in five are worried about leaving the person they care for alone while they go to work. Among those who were able to work at home during the pandemic, almost nine in ten would like the option to continue doing so at least some of the time. And more than four in ten caregivers said they would consider looking for a new job if the benefits they were offered during the pandemic were rolled back.

AARP offers a range of free tools and resources to help employers retain working caregivers, including tip sheets, tool kits and online training for managers. The resources are available at www.aarp.org/employercaregiving.

The survey was conducted by phone and online panel July 1-7, 2021, and included 800 U.S. residents 18 years or older who are currently providing unpaid care to an adult relative or friend and employed either full-time or part-time (but not self-employed).

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