According to 2020 estimates from AARP, there are approximately 53 million adults in the in the U.S. who act as “informal” (i.e., unpaid) caregivers to family members and loved ones—including to loved ones who have been diagnosed with cancer. The role of caregiver is a complex one that involves not just hours spent tending to basic needs such as cooking and doctor appointments but also balancing other family and/or personal obligations, and work, as well as taking on the responsibility of contributing financially to their loved one's care. This combination of stressors is commonly referred to as the caregiver burden.
People of all racial and ethnic backgrounds feel the impact of caregiver burden in significant ways, however, according to an article by Deborah Bonello published in OZY, Black caregivers are more likely to experience this burden at high levels. For example, 57% percent of Black caregivers spend more than one-third of their household income on expenses related to caregiving (vs. 14% of White caregivers); 1-in-3 are considered to be “sandwiched” caregivers (meaning that they are caring for a parent/grandparent as well as children/grandchildren); and 57% also report spending an average of 30 hours per week on activities related to caregiving.
When we factor in the reality that more than 61% of caregivers also hold down full- or part-time jobs, the need for ongoing conversations and reliable resources to help make balancing work and caregiving – and the rest of life - less burdensome is abundantly clear. Having a greater understanding of practical solutions that can help caregivers to stay on the job, laws that may provide protections at work, and where to turn for additional support can help lessen the stress experienced by caregivers so they can be more present for their loved ones – and themselves. Per Bonello’s article, the Credit for Caring Act and Recognize, Assist, Include, Support and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregiver Act demonstrate that changes are being made on the policy level to ensure greater levels of support are available. Additionally, the following CAC articles and resources may be useful in helping you navigate your specific work and caregiving circumstances.