A new study by Statistics Canada shows examines the implications of Canadian baby boomers providing care to aging parents, relatives or friends.

The study says more than 1.7 million adults aged 45 to 64 provide substantial informal care to almost 2.3 million seniors with disabilities or physical limitations.

The StatsCan report says this extra burden on families causes additional stress, some guilt and has major career major career implications for caregivers.

The 2002 census data showed seven out of 10 caregivers were otherwise employed and many were women.

Individuals providing four or more hours of care per week were likely to reduce work hours, change work patterns or turn down a new job offer or promotion, the study found.

In this group, 65% of women and 47% of men working more than 40 hours per week said they were substantially affected.

Some 21% of female caregivers said the need to care for a family member might lead to retirement from the outside workforce. Only 13% of employed women not providing care were contemplating retirement.

When asked what would relieve the pressure, most of the caregivers said they would like occasional relief or respite care for the family member.

The study also showed people in this situation felt guilty that they were not doing enough for their needy loved ones, a feeling that increased as their work hours outside the home increased.

While these guilt feelings were reported by both men and women caregivers, men felt guilty to a lesser degree than women.