As people get older, we will increasingly depend upon help to get through each day. Some of us will live in long term care centers, but many of us will live at home. Not much is known about the home caregivers, most of whom provide care without pay. The National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP Public Policy Institute published a portrait of unpaid family caregivers today in Caregiving in the U.S. 2015.
According to the publication, caregivers are as diverse as the United States as a whole: they come from every age, gender, socioeconomic, and racial/ethnic group. An estimated 43.5 million adults have provided unpaid care to an adult or a child in the prior 12months, and approximately 34.2 million have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the prior 12 months. About 60% of the caregivers are female, 40 percent are male, and 80% are taking care of one person. About 85% of caregivers provide care for a relative, with 49% caring for a parent or parent-in-law and 10% caring for a spouse. They average 49 years of age, with 7% of the caregivers averaging 75 years of age or older. On average, they have been in their role for 4 years, with 24% having provided care for 5 years or more. Higher-hour caregivers are twice as likely to have been in their caregiving role for 10 or more years. On average, caregivers spend 24.4 hours a week providing care to their loved one. Nearly one-quarter provide 41 or more hours of care a week. Caregiving is particularly time-intensive for those caring for a spouse/partner (44.6 hours a week).
The portrait of care recipients is also provided. 65% of the typical care recipient is female and averages 69.4 years of age. However, 47%, or almost half of the care recipients are 75 years old or older. 48% of the care recipients live in their own home, but as hours of care increase, so do the chances that the care recipient co-resides with the caregiver.
We know much about the elderly who receive the care. However, in order to appreciate and improve the care delivery, but we need more information about the caregivers and the support they may need in providing their care. The caregivers share many struggles but can face different challenges depending on their circumstances. Caregivers need differing support depending on their loved one’s condition and needs, and their own problems, strengths, and resources.