Report shows caregivers in Utah shoulder emotional, financial burden

Posted at 6:35 PM, Jul 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-17 20:35:59-04

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah -- Taking care of an aging parent can be a balancing act, especially if you work full-time and are raising a family.

The AARP of Utah says there are 336,000 Utahns who care for an elderly or disabled parent and provide work that isn’t easy and isn’t cheap.

According to the AARP, since 2013, caregivers provided 313 million hours of unpaid family care which comes up to $4.1 billion in economic value.

Laura Polacheck, Communications Director for AARP of Utah said: “A lot of times they have to rely on themselves. There are not a lot of laws in place that allows them to have time off work. Some states allow paid time off or at least being able to take unpaid leave.”

Polacheck said these unsung heroes need more support from local, state and federal agencies.

Kathy Nelson takes care of her 73-year-old mother, who just had open heart surgery.

She also works full-time at the Salt Lake County Aging Services, where she trains caregivers.

“Every time I pick up the phone, I find a family member that is going the extra mile," Nelson said. "Whether it's three brothers living together to help each other out because they've all lost their spouses. Or if it's a young woman who has taken in both their parents and her in-laws and two of them may have Alzheimer's."

Nelson has supportive siblings who help shoulder the load, and knows all their hard work comes from a place of love.

“There is a great deal of stress with caregiving, there's also a great deal of compassion and love that comes by going this together as a family,” Nelson said.

If you would like to learn more about resources available for caregivers in Salt Lake County, click here.