An AARP report, "Keeping Up with the Times: Supporting Family Caregivers with Workplace Leave Policies," also said 1-in-4 retirees said they left the workforce earlier than planned to care for an ill spouse or other family member.
"The aging of the population, changing workforce demographics and increasing demands on family caregivers are colliding at the expense of working caregivers," Lynn Feinberg, senior strategic policy adviser with the AARP Public Policy Institute and author of the report, said in a statement.
"Even as workforce participation and caregiving demands are increasing for caregivers, workplace policies protecting or supporting them have remained stagnant."
Close to 3-of-4 women of prime caregiving age are in the workforce and 74 percent of adults with eldercare responsibilities have been in the workforce at some point in their caregiving, the report said.
The Family and Medical Leave Act limits leave for caregiving for elderly relatives to parents or spouses, effectively excluding those caring for in-laws, grandparents, or aunts and uncles.
In addition, because FMLA leave is unpaid, it is irrelevant to many low-income workers and it is totally unavailable to those working for small businesses with fewer than 50 employees.
Nearly two-thirds of workers eligible for FMLA who didn't take it reported they couldn't afford to take unpaid leave or were afraid of losing their job, Feinberg said.
Unpaid family and medical leave, paid family and medical leave insurance and earned sick time could ease the burden on both caregivers and employers.