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Over 40% of Utah Caregivers Experience Financial Stress

Report finds younger people, aged 18-34, are more likely to experience serious financial stress.
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Sam Garcia
(Design by Sam Garcia | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

 

More than 4 in 10 Utah caregivers experience financial stress, a survey conducted in April by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute found. Younger people, aged 18-34, are more likely to experience serious financial stress.

Samantha Ball, senior research associate at the Gardner Institute, suggested that more competing demands could explain why younger caregivers feel more stressed financially.

“Younger people are maybe juggling more things besides caregiving … [than] retired people who are able to devote more of their time to caregiving without having it be competing with other demands in their schedule,” she said. 

The survey defined a caregiver as someone who has provided short or long-term help to someone with a chronic illness or disability.

Caregivers make up a diverse cross-section of Utahns. That’s one finding that surprised Ball when conducting the survey.

“They’re from all sorts of different backgrounds,” she said. “They’re all ages, men and women, all income groups. Some are working, some are non-working and they’re all over the state.”

Working Caregivers

The Family Caregiving Collaborative sponsored the survey. In a news release, Lee Ellington, a professor at the University of Utah College of Nursing and director of the Family Caregiving Collaborative, said the report highlights working caregivers. She said the data is significant for Utah employers.

“Many employed caregivers face challenges and a desire to make work changes due to their caregiving situation,” Ellington said in the news release. “This has important implications for Utah employers as caregivers represent a significant workforce whose contributions may be tested as Utah’s need for more family caregivers increases.”

The survey found that 2 in 5 caregivers made work-related changes because of their caregiving responsibilities. Those with higher incomes tended to switch to remote or hybrid work to help manage their responsibilities. On the other hand, those with low incomes often reduced their work hours, instead. Ball said employers could support caregivers by providing paid leave, job sharing and the option of remote work.

A report in 2022 by the Gardner Institute, in partnership with the College of Nursing-led interdisciplinary Family Caregiving Collaborative, showed that 1 in 5 Utahns are caregivers. It also found Utah may have more than 100,000 caregivers by 2030.

According to the April 2024 survey, only 15% of caregivers seek assistance from state or county governments. Only 9% receive assistance overall. Ball said when caregivers need additional support, they usually turn to friends and family for help. But as Utah’s population ages, services like respite care are things some caregivers “desperately need.”

“Utah caregivers who were turning to their families for that extra layer of support may need more support from government programs so they can provide that care, and so I think that’s something looking forward that we have on our horizon,” Ball said.

Caregivers as College Students

A 2020 survey by the American Association of Retired Persons and the National Alliance for Caregiving found that there are 5 million college students who are caregivers. Of these, 7 in 10 found their caregiving roles impacted their academic performance.

Jason Ramirez, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students at the U, told Liberal Education Magazine that identifying students caring for older adults is “an area that’s a little bit of a blind spot.”

While the April 2024 report did not focus on college students, Ball said many of the things employers can do to support caregivers are the same things universities can do for their caregiving students. These include flexible scheduling, on-site counseling and support groups.

“I think in both cases, a culture of understanding those competing demands that either an employee or student is facing,” she said. “Just understanding, even just when things are due or when problems come up, that culture could be really important in supporting them.”

 

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@GiovanniRadtke

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About the Contributors
Giovanni Radtke
Giovanni Radtke, Assistant News Editor
Giovanni Radtke is a junior at the U with an associate degree in journalism and digital media from Salt Lake Community College. He is majoring in communications with an emphasis in journalism. Giovanni is a self-proclaimed cinephile who loves traveling and reading history books.
Sam Garcia
Sam Garcia, Designer
(she/her) Sam Garcia is a junior studying Graphic Design and minoring in Computer Science. She has a bubbly and energetic personality. Loves drawing, painting, taking care of her plants, and getting shredded at the gym.

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