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Caregivers can't keep up

The Hartford Courant

Baby boomers are getting stressed out by caring for an ill or injured parent or other family member while balancing a full-time job, and as a result they're missing work themselves, according to a new survey by The Hartford and a major provider of employee-assistance programs.

"Our research found a troubling trend of baby boomer caregivers being pushed to their limits," said Barbara Campbell, regional vice president of the Group Benefits Division at The Hartford Financial Services Group.

The survey of 862 people born between 1946 and 1964 found that a majority of boomers are stressed out about caring for a child, parent or spouse. They're also worried about how their job is affected by caring for someone at home.

More than half of boomers 55 and older and 68 percent of younger boomers, 45 to 54, say they have missed work or left work early in the past six months because of responsibilities as a caregiver.

Additionally, boomers take more leave due to their own illness — of which stress is a contributing factor — than any other age group, according to a separate study of 91,000 workers at 171 businesses that contract with The Hartford for employee-benefits packages.

Campbell suggests that employers can help relieve pressure felt by boomers who are caregivers.

"We hope to raise awareness among employers about this risk to their employees' health and productivity because they play a key role in bringing workers' lives back into balance," Campbell said.

The study was a combined effort by The Hartford, which sells employee-benefits packages to businesses, and ComPsych Corp., which provides wellness, counseling and other employee-assistance programs that are sold to employers, typically through insurance companies.

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