Caregiving crisis: Caregivers fill gaps amid worker shortage

Morning In America

(NewsNation Now) — Women are being forced to make sacrifices in their careers and personal lives in order to care for family members during the pandemic, according to a new study.

About one in four women over the age of 40 reports being an unpaid caregiver to an adult family member, a child or a grandchild since the pandemic began, according to a new study from the American Association of Retired Persons. The study examined both the effects of the pandemic on women and women who were working full time before the pandemic.

It determined that midcareer and older women significantly interrupted their work lives to help provide car to a child or grandchild who was no longer learning in person due to COVID-19.

Kelly Bock knows the struggle firsthand as she juggles work and taking care of her daughter.

“It’s rough having her at home. She’s used to being out and being social and being active and we can’t give her that the same way school can give her that,” said Bock. “We’re anxious but it doesn’t seem like there’s an end near.”

Bock’s 21-year-old daughter is disabled. Prior to the pandemic, she was attending school a few times a week. When the lockdowns hit, Bock and her husband, who both work, had to take care of their daughter full time.

“When the pandemic started, she was immediately home full time. I do work at a school. So we were closed for a bit too, but, we pretty quickly came back to five days a week. So I could only work a few hours,” Bock said. “My husband works from home, so he was able to cover a lot of that for me. But it’s been pretty tough. I’m her primary caregiver.”

Bock sat down with NewsNation’s Adrienne Bankert to discuss the struggles of managing work and caring for her daughter. You can watch the full “Morning in America” interview in the player above.

Bock has put her daughter on a waiting list for a new school. So far the process has taken months because of a shortage of staff working at the school.

This comes amid a worker shortage with Americans quitting in droves. The Labor Department said earlier this week that 4.3 million quit their jobs in August, the highest on records dating back to December 2000. Bock said her family could afford to provide additional care but the worker shortage was hindering their efforts.

Bock said the worker shortage is something she witnesses firsthand at her own job working at a preschool.

“We don’t have as many children but we are very short-staffed,” Bock said. “We’ve had to have therapists come into the room to help cover and administration come in to help cover. So it’s not easy.”

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Bock said despite the stress of being a caregiver and working, she is hopeful.

“I always get emotional when I talk about her being home,” Bock said in tears. “I’m a naturally hopeful person and not a negative person. So I do think that going forward soon, she’ll have a spot there and she’ll be able to start going.”

The study also noted that race plays a factor in unemployment rates as well with minorities having a higher unemployment rate. 38% of Hispanic women over the age of 40 reported being a caregiver since the pandemic began, the highest of any group.

You can read the full AARP study below:

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