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The “Daughter Syndrome”

Perhaps you know women who are taking care of their parents, in-laws or other loved ones. Many of these women are facing numerous challenges as caregivers, while trying to work full-time. There are roughly 44 million unpaid eldercare providers in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Most caregivers are women. This reality is known as the Daughter Syndrome.

Syndrome Symptoms

This “syndrome” may begin when a woman helps rear her younger siblings. When she then becomes a “mother” to children of her own, a woman rears them to adulthood. After her children are adults and the nest is empty, this “daughter” may care for her parents or in-laws in their later retirement years. This assistance may include providing support, while these senior loved ones are still living independently, transporting them to doctor appointments, running errands for them and helping them with the upkeep of their homes. The daughter may later need to help transition parents or in-laws to other living arrangements, such as an assisted care facility. Since women tend to outlive men, a woman will likely care for her husband until his death.

Financial Symptoms

One of the direct consequences of the daughter syndrome is financial. Did you know these caregiving women lose an average of $324,044 in compensation due to their “uncompensated” services, according to a study from MetLife and the National Alliance for Caregiving? The medical journal JAMA Neurology recently discussed a looming crisis for women and their employers—the increasing number of dementia patients who will end up relying on family members for their care.

Career Consequences

A report by the Alzheimer’s Association found that employed women, who are caregivers, are seven times more likely than men to drop from full-time to part-time employment because of caregiving duties. Along the way, women are more likely than men to take a leave of absence from work, forfeit employment benefits because they reduce their hours or simply stop working altogether.

A survey of 1,001 working women aged 45 to 60 who are not self-employed and are caregivers for at least one parent and/or in-law in the United States or Canada, revealed additional concerns. About 50% of respondents believe that they must choose between being a good employee and being a good daughter, 25% feel there is a stigma associated with taking time off from work to care for a parent, 23% say their bosses were unsympathetic, when it comes to balancing work and caregiver responsibilities, 13% have been passed over for a promotion or raise and 9% believe their positions are in jeopardy because of their caregiving responsibilities. Not surprisingly, the average caregiver daughter uses 29% of her paid time off to meet her caregiving responsibilities.

Personal Priorities

Eventually, this “daughter” finds herself the last leaf on her generational tree. Those for whom she previously provided care, have already passed away. No one is left to care for her, when she needs help. If she has any brothers or sisters, they may be retired and trying to navigate their own elder care plans. Her adult children may be spread around the country, and there may be no one nearby to assist.

This stark reality is the reason why every woman needs her own plan for quality long-term care and the money to pay for it. Long-term care insurance can assure quality care, when there is no family caregiver for the caregiver herself. The best time to apply for coverage, is when you are healthy and do not need it.

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