Women and men stress over childcare and eldercare
Monday, April 08, 2013
More Canadian professionals, including men, are stepping up
their roles as family caregivers -- and stressing out about it, according to a
recent study underwritten by Desjardins Insurance.
Out of more than 25,000 employees surveyed, 25 percent to 35
percent are balancing work, care giving and/or childcare, according to
"Balancing Work, Childcare and Eldercare." Sixty percent of those in
the caregiver group have both children and elderly parents. The result: cramped, often overwhelming schedules that include working 45 hours
a week, while spending more than 10 hours on eldercare and up to 30 hours a
week on childcare.
Researchers Linda Duxbury of Carleton University and
Christopher Higgins of the University of Western Ontario's Ivey School of
Business surveyed 25,000 employees, 8,000 of whom provided statistics on care
giving. "The people with kids are more stressed and those with elder care
are more depressed, and if you are sandwiched with both you really lose -- you
are stressed and depressed," Duxbury said.
Proportionally, women still shoulder more of the eldercare
responsibilities, the study found. Women are three times as likely as men to be
caregivers for elders alone, and as much as twice as likely to care for both children
and aging parents.
Younger men, however, are finding themselves feeling more
responsible than ever for the well-being of their parents. "Women are more
educated, earn more money and are equal breadwinners today, which gives them
more say on who does what,” Duxbury said. "At the same time, younger men
feel responsible for their parents. What really sticks out among young men
between ages 30 and 45 is they are really part of egalitarian families and that
doesn't make things better for women. It makes things worse for men.”
Still, only 60 percent of those interviewed said care-giving
responsibilities have created a negative impact on their professional lives.
Skills learned as a caregiver often inform diplomacy and patience with
colleagues, while experience in crisis management offers valuable insights
toward care giving.
Ultimately, it is the employers who may be pressed to offer
caregiver-friendly benefits to recruit and retain skilled employees. Flexible
work arrangements, employee assistance programs and caregiver support networks
would help offset the approximately $25 billion families spend each year for
informal care as professional duties compete with family responsibilities, the
"How are we going to remain competitive when we aren't
paying attention to the fact that we have a huge number in the most productive
stage of the career cycle having to deal with kids, elder care, demanding jobs
and unrelenting email?” asks Duxbury.