There's plenty of research about the financial sacrifices caregivers make, but a new study shows the hidden financial losses they face when their caregiving responsibilities impact their careers. A new study from Metlife Mature Market Institute, in conjunction with the National Alliance for Caregiving and the Center for Long Term Care Research and Policy at New York Medical College, found that individuals caring for their parents lose an estimated 3 trillion dollars in wages, pension and Social Security benefits when they take time off to provide care. The average loss is $324,044 for women and $283,716 for men.  

The researchers also analyzed data from the National Health and Retirement Study to determine the number of Americans caring for their parents, the gender roles in these responsibilties and the impact of caregiving on individuals' lost wages and retirement income. They found that 10 million Americans over 50 are caring for an aging parent, a number that has tripled since 1994.

These numbers reinforce the importance of support for caregivers both on the job and in public policy. One policy is the Community Living Assistance Services and Support or CLASS Act . CLASS, which is part of the Affordable Care Act, is voluntary insurance plan to help individuals pay for their long-term care expenses. When they need help, people would receive cash benefits to cover their costs. That could mean paying a famly member who misses work to help out. It may not cover the total difference, but it's a start.