The Gender Gap: Women Predominate Among Caregivers of the Elderly

Share this content

Most seniors with long-term care needs rely on their family and friends to provide assistance, and a great majority of them rely on women, usually their adult daughters. Although the proportion of men (sons) is steadily increasing, women constitute the majority of caregivers.

What are the consequences of this gender gap?

Why Are Women Caregivers?

Research shows an estimated 66 percent of caregivers are female. Although men also provide assistance, female caregivers may spend as much as 50 percent more time providing care than male caregivers.

Darby J. Morhardt, a Research Associate Professor at Northwestern University, studied the motivations behind why women provide care. She posits that a complex mix of expectation and obligation combined with love and gratitude propel women toward this work.

For example, women express a greater sense of responsibility toward family members. Although some studies suggest that male caregivers are also driven by a similar sense of commitment and family responsibility, women are further motivated by their concern about the emotional well-being of people for whom they provide care.

These attitudes and attachments lead women to devote greater time to caregiving compared to men, serving not only as caregiver but also as hands-on health provider, care manager, friend, companion, surrogate decision-maker, and advocate.

Where Does All This Time Come From?

In a review of the evidence, Morhardt found that the gender gap in caregiving stems from the gender gap in the workforce. Because of the gendered nature of paid work, “Women are less likely to be employed outside the home, and women’s work roles are viewed as home-centered and reflect a greater sense of family obligation,” she writes.

Other research shows that the market value of the informal care that women provide ranges from $148 billion to $188 billion annually.

Yet estimates indicate that some 20 percent of all female workers in the United States are family caregivers. The time these women have to take out of the workforce for caregiving leads to lost wages from reduced work hours, family leave, or early retirement.

One national study on women and caregiving highlighted the conflicting demands of work and eldercare. The study found that:

  • 33% of working women decreased work hours
  • 29% passed up a job promotion, training, or assignment
  • 22% took a leave of absence
  • 20% switched from full-time to part-time employment
  • 16% quit their jobs
  • 13% retired early

But the toll that caregiving takes is not just financial.

What Are the Consequences?

Men may be sharing in caregiving tasks more than in the past, but females still shoulder the major burden of care. Research shows that female caregivers experience greater role strain and role conflict than male caregivers.

Role strain occurs when someone is unable to meet the expectations and obligations of multiple roles. They might feel role overload when competing demands overwhelm their ability to carry out the role, or they might feel trapped in their role, which is referred to as role captivity. Role conflict occurs when someone has difficulties fulfilling the caregiver role and experiences negative consequences from this role.

For example, women who care for their parents are twice as likely to suffer from depressive or anxious symptoms as noncaregivers and are less likely to have their own health needs met:

  • 25% rated their own health as fair or poor
  • 54% had one or more chronic health conditions
  • 51% exhibited depressive symptoms
  • 16% were twice as likely in the past year not to get needed medical care

What Should Be Done?

Support services such as information, assistance, counseling, respite, home modifications or assistive devices, support groups and family counseling can make a real difference in the day-to-day lives of caregivers.

As women’s participation in the workforce continues to grow, employers should implement workplace support programs to mitigate the impact that caregiving can have on workers.

Morhardt also points out that a majority of the studies carried out have been among women, to paint a clearer picture of caregivers of the elderly, researchers need to focus on the experience of male caregivers.

“If gender differences are significant,” she writes, “this has major implications for the development of gender-specific caregiver interventions and social policy recommendations to improve the experience of female caregivers.”

As you experience caregiving with the men and women in your life, conflicts might arise due to the gender gap. For more tips about navigating adult sibling relationships, download Brothers and Sisters, a guide to resolving sibling conflict when making assisted living decisions.

 

  • Browse by Topics

  • Recent Posts

  • Have More Questions?

    Deciding to help a loved one transition to a senior living option is not an easy decision. We can help you get the clarity, answers, and support needed to lessen your worries and take the next steps.

    Click the button below to let us know how we can help you further.

  • Instant Access to Free Guide


    Have you decided that assisted living is the best option for your elderly parent, and now are feeling overwhelmed on how to begin your search for the right community?

    This guide will go over what you need to know before you make a decision.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Are you considering assisted living for yourself or a loved one but are hesitant about the cost? Assisted living costs, services and amenities vary greatly among the last and most expensive communities, and costs are higher in some states than others.

    This guide will answer questions you may have about the costs of assisted living and recommend resources to help you pay for it.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Talking to your aging parent about moving to an assisted living community isn’t easy.

    Often, many adult children avoid bringing it up because it can be a sensitive topic.

    This guide will provide you with helpful tips and insight on how to have a productive conversation with your parent and siblings regarding your parent’s future.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Difficult behaviors in elderly adults are very common. They may be an expression of frustration your loved one feels or a symptom of early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s.

    This guide will provide you with skills and knowledge on how to handle difficult behaviors your aging parent may be experiencing.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Becoming a family caregiver can be a rewarding experience. It also has its challenges.

    There are many questions to answer before making the decision to take care of a loved one.

    This guide will provide answers to questions you may have on this topic.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Is your parent or loved one depressed, or just in a bad mood?

    What does medication and illness have to do with depression?

    How can you help? In this guide, you will be provided with answers to the difficult questions you may have about depression.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Has your aging parent recently lost interest in activities they used to enjoy? Have you noticed a change in their mood and behavior?

    This guide will provide you with resources and tools on how to identify depression, what are the common causes of depression, and how to promote mental health in your aging loved one.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Does your loved one need more support than what they are getting? Would they benefit from some assistance with daily activities?

    In this guide, you’ll find answers to the most common questions asked about assisted living.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Where do you start searching for assisted living or memory care communities?

    What qualities in a community should you look for? How do you know you made the right decision?


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Has your dad stopped getting together for lunches or outings with friends or visits with neighbors? Have you stopped enjoying time with your parents because you’re a caregiver?

    Choosing an assisted living community is a big decision. Learn how to find the right one for you and your loved one.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    No one ever plans to be sick or disabled, and disasters, man-made or natural, can happen at any time, anywhere.

    Yet older adults are among the most vulnerable during a crisis. That’s why it’s critical that seniors, and those who care for them, prepare for emergencies.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Moving to assisted living is a life-changing event.

    This guide provides tips and ideas on downsizing, what to pack and how to make the transition smooth for your senior parent.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    In this eBook, you’ll learn how to talk with family and friends about caregiving challenges, how to deal with a parent who is resistant to help, how to get more caregiving help from your siblings, and how to keep your job while caregiving.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Have you had to cut back your hours at work to care for your mom? Are you worried about administering medications or injections?

    Have you stopped getting together with friends, either because you don’t have the time or you’re too exhausted? Are you becoming the invisible second patient?


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    A Guide to the Most Common Family Caregiver Challenges Associated with Caring for an Aging Parent.

    You’ll learn about the true costs of being a family caregiver, common family conflicts that can occur when caring for parents, and some of the unexpected challenges of caregiving.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    In this guide, you’ll learn about the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia, including the early symptoms of dementia; the seven stages of dementia and the symptoms that typically accompany each one; and the signs it’s time to start exploring your memory care options.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    In this guide, you’ll learn about the difference between assisted living and memory care, how health care professionals are trained in dementia care, common features of a memory care community, and questions you should ask when exploring your memory care options.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Navigating adult sibling relationships can be a challenge, but coming together for the sake of your parent is important.

    In this guide, you’ll learn about common sibling conflicts that arise when caring for parents, strategies for getting siblings on board, and where to turn to for help.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Assisted living can be a touchy subject. No matter how you approach it, your parent is likely to have objections to something.

    As you help them transition to a new stage of life, it helps to be prepared with answers to their questions and concerns.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    This checklist will help to make sure you are getting the most out of your visit to The Arbors.

    The list details what important questions to ask during your visit so you are able to make an enlightened choice and find the best assisted living community for your needs.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    If you’re unsure what Assisted Living looks like in real life, whether there is a difference with nursing homes or a desire to see how community life unfolds, then this guide is exactly what you need.

    A guide to discover the Care Team and a Typical Day in Assisted Living.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Have you decided that assisted living is the best option for your elderly parent, and now are feeling overwhelmed on how to begin your search for the right community?

    This guide will go over what you need to know before you make a decision.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Are you considering assisted living for yourself or a loved one but are hesitant about the cost? Assisted living costs, services and amenities vary greatly among the last and most expensive communities, and costs are higher in some states than others.

    This guide will answer questions you may have about the costs of assisted living and recommend resources to help you pay for it.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Talking to your aging parent about moving to an assisted living community isn’t easy.

    Often, many adult children avoid bringing it up because it can be a sensitive topic.

    This guide will provide you with helpful tips and insight on how to have a productive conversation with your parent and siblings regarding your parent’s future.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Difficult behaviors in elderly adults are very common. They may be an expression of frustration your loved one feels or a symptom of early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s.

    This guide will provide you with skills and knowledge on how to handle difficult behaviors your aging parent may be experiencing.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Becoming a family caregiver can be a rewarding experience. It also has its challenges.

    There are many questions to answer before making the decision to take care of a loved one.

    This guide will provide answers to questions you may have on this topic.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Is your parent or loved one depressed, or just in a bad mood?

    What does medication and illness have to do with depression?

    How can you help? In this guide, you will be provided with answers to the difficult questions you may have about depression.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Has your aging parent recently lost interest in activities they used to enjoy? Have you noticed a change in their mood and behavior?

    This guide will provide you with resources and tools on how to identify depression, what are the common causes of depression, and how to promote mental health in your aging loved one.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Does your loved one need more support than what they are getting? Would they benefit from some assistance with daily activities?

    In this guide, you’ll find answers to the most common questions asked about assisted living.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Where do you start searching for assisted living or memory care communities?

    What qualities in a community should you look for? How do you know you made the right decision?


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Has your dad stopped getting together for lunches or outings with friends or visits with neighbors? Have you stopped enjoying time with your parents because you’re a caregiver?

    Choosing an assisted living community is a big decision. Learn how to find the right one for you and your loved one.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    No one ever plans to be sick or disabled, and disasters, man-made or natural, can happen at any time, anywhere.

    Yet older adults are among the most vulnerable during a crisis. That’s why it’s critical that seniors, and those who care for them, prepare for emergencies.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Moving to assisted living is a life-changing event.

    This guide provides tips and ideas on downsizing, what to pack and how to make the transition smooth for your senior parent.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    In this eBook, you’ll learn how to talk with family and friends about caregiving challenges, how to deal with a parent who is resistant to help, how to get more caregiving help from your siblings, and how to keep your job while caregiving.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Have you had to cut back your hours at work to care for your mom? Are you worried about administering medications or injections?

    Have you stopped getting together with friends, either because you don’t have the time or you’re too exhausted? Are you becoming the invisible second patient?


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    In this guide, you’ll learn about the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia, including the early symptoms of dementia; the seven stages of dementia and the symptoms that typically accompany each one; and the signs it’s time to start exploring your memory care options.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    In this guide, you’ll learn about the difference between assisted living and memory care, how health care professionals are trained in dementia care, common features of a memory care community, and questions you should ask when exploring your memory care options.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Navigating adult sibling relationships can be a challenge, but coming together for the sake of your parent is important.

    In this guide, you’ll learn about common sibling conflicts that arise when caring for parents, strategies for getting siblings on board, and where to turn to for help.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Assisted living can be a touchy subject. No matter how you approach it, your parent is likely to have objections to something.

    As you help them transition to a new stage of life, it helps to be prepared with answers to their questions and concerns.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    A Guide to the Most Common Family Caregiver Challenges Associated with Caring for an Aging Parent.

    You’ll learn about the true costs of being a family caregiver, common family conflicts that can occur when caring for parents, and some of the unexpected challenges of caregiving.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    This checklist will help to make sure you are getting the most out of your visit to The Arbors.

    The list details what important questions to ask during your visit so you are able to make an enlightened choice and find the best assisted living community for your needs.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    If you’re unsure what Assisted Living looks like in real life, whether there is a difference with nursing homes or a desire to see how community life unfolds, then this guide is exactly what you need.

    A guide to discover the Care Team and a Typical Day in Assisted Living.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Cost Comparison guide

    You’re probably wondering how much the different senior living options compare to your current situation.
    If you do, then this guide is exactly what you need.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Updates on vaccine requirement and our commitment to health and safety during the COVID-19 crisisLEARN MORE
    +