As America’s population ages, the task of caring for the older generation will increasingly fall upon the country’s women — a new study published in medical journal JAMA Neurology warned this week. The study from Stanford University’s Clinical Excellence Research Center found that by 2030 one in five Americans will be 65 or older, and 8.5 Americans will have dementia — up from 5.5 million Americans currently afflicted by the condition.
“Women are at the epicenter of caregiving as a whole, and Alzheimer’s caregiving in particular,” explained Ruth Drew, director of family and information services at the Alzheimer’s Association. “Even though two-thirds of people with Alzheimer’s are women themselves, two-thirds of the caregivers are also women. So there are more wives caring for their husbands than the reverse, more daughters caring for parents than sons.”
“We see a lot of daughters caring not only for their parents, but their in-laws,” Drew added.
Experts don’t expect that trend to change, noting that women still continue to handle the vast bulk of child care duties despite their rapidly escalating role in the workforce.
“The numbers are skewed strongly toward women, and it’s hard to imagine that by 2030 the numbers will even out to 50-50,” said Nicholas Bott, a co-author of the study.
Providing that care, unfortunately, comes at a cost for many women. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, employed women who are also caregivers are seven times more likely than men to make a switch from full-time to part-time employment — and many women say that caregiving duties have hurt them at work, socially, and in their marriages. As America’s average population continues to age, it’s anticipated that their caregiving responsibilities will only become greater.
“The best long-term care insurance in our country,” the authors concluded, “is a conscientious daughter.”
Read the full story at The New York Times.