Caregivers are becoming one of America’s most precious resources. While the number of seniors in the United States is growing exponentially, federal estimates indicate that the number of younger people available to provide care to seniors is shrinking.
In 2014 (last available statistics) there were 46 million people over the age of 65 in the United States, representing 15 percent of the population. By the year 2030 that number will have grown to 74 million and people over the age of 65 will represent 21 percent of the U.S. population.
November is a good time to call attention to this issue as it is National Caregivers Month. Whether caregivers are friends, family members or professionals, they provide important care for seniors who might otherwise be unable to stay in their own homes. Caregivers provide comfort, companionship, help with daily activities of living, transportation, and assistance with doctor’s appointments. But most importantly, they provide the empathy and compassion that only another human being can provide. Caregiving and the human touch is something that none of us can live without.
One of the most important pieces of research on caregiving in the United States was conducted in 2015 by the National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP. The results showed that millions of Americans provide unpaid care for loved ones, often at a steep financial and emotional cost. An especially stark statistic reported by the study is the fact that nearly 1 in 10 caregivers is 75 years of age or older (7%). These caregivers, and those who choose it as a profession are to be honored, respected and supported.
The picture of caregivers in the U.S. looks like this:
- Approximately 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older “in the prior 12 months”.
- The majority of caregivers, 60 percent, are female while 40 percent are male.
- 82 percent are taking care of one person.
- On average, caregivers are 49 years old.
- A large majority of caregivers (85 percent) provide care for a relative and 49 percent of them care for a parent or parent-in-law.
- One in 10 provides care for a spouse.
The care they provide is demanding:
- 59 percent of care recipients have a long-term physical condition.
- 35 percent have a short-term physical condition
- 26 percent have a memory problem.
- 37 percent of care recipients have more than one health condition or illness.
Family caregivers provide many hours of care while also holding down jobs and taking care of their own families – and it takes a toll. The vast majority of caregivers, 56 percent, work full time. Twenty-two percent of caregivers feel their health has become worse as a direct result of caregiving. Nineteen percent of caregivers say they have a high level of physical strain as a result of caregiving and 38 percent consider caregiving to be emotionally stressful.
It’s no wonder there is a high degree of physical and emotional strain given the number of hours of care provided by family caregivers The average caregiver reported spending 24.4 hours a week caring for a loved one.
- 23 percent provide 41 or more hours of care a week
- Those caring for a spouse or partner provide 44.6 hours of care a week
The types of care that caregivers provide ranges from helping with activities of daily living to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia care. In fact, the second highest reason for providing care was reported to be Alzheimer’s or dementia. The first was “old age”.
- 59 percent provide assistance with activities of daily living
- 43 percent report most commonly helping their loved one get in and out of beds and chairs
Professional in-home care can take some of the burden off family caregivers. It can help them to preserve a sense of self, and help them to protect their jobs. Sixty percent of caregivers report having to make some type of accommodation in their work in order to provide care. Some cut back on work hours, some report taking a leave of absence, and some report receiving warnings about their work performance or attendance. It’s evidence that caregivers can pay a dear price for doing the right thing and caring for their loved ones. When professional in-home caregivers step in, family members and friends can preserve their own lives while ensuring that a senior loved one is well cared for.
Together, family and in-home professional caregivers can provide the best comprehensive care for seniors so they can age in place. Family caregivers say they are looking for support and information. Many have been thrown into the caregiving situation without notice, training or information.
- 84 percent of caregivers want more information or help on caregiving topics
- 42 percent want information about keeping their loved one safe at home and managing their own stress
- 18 percent want information on managing their loved ones’ challenging behaviors
- 17 percent want information on dealing with incontinence or toileting problems
We believe it is important to honor caregivers who provide comfort, care and compassion to their loved ones. We are in the business of in-home care to support them in those efforts. Seniors deserve to age in place and to enjoy life with a team of knowledgeable caregivers who work every day to protect their health and well being.
If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation. Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.
Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care, Bed & Wheelchair Transfer Assistance, Companionship, Housekeeping & Meal Preparation, Personal Care, Recovery Care, and Transportation.