Do you provide care for a family member in need, outside of your normal work schedule? If so, you’re not alone — there are approximately 40 million unpaid family caregivers in the U.S., and that number continues to grow. The demand for caregivers has increased significantly; the fastest growing groups of older adults is 80-years-old and older, and at the same time, the size of American families is shrinking, nursing homes are getting more expensive, and the insurance landscape continues to change.
Let’s look at the state of caregiving, as well as caregiving resources and statistics in more detail, including who these caregivers are, what they do, and where they can find support.
Who are Today’s Family Caregivers?
Today’s family caregivers come in all shapes and sizes, but the average caregiver is a 49-year-old woman taking care of an older relative. Of the previously mentioned 40 million unpaid caregivers, over half (24 million) are juggling caregiving responsibilities along with employment.
Of those juggling employment, 60% have reported reducing the number of hours they are able to work, taking leave, or otherwise adjusting their work responsibilities to accommodate caregiving. The impact? An estimated cumulative loss of more than $300,000 in earnings and benefits over their lifetime.
What Are Family Caregivers’ Duties?
Surprisingly, most caregiving for aging parents doesn’t come in the form of direct financial support or personal care. More commonly, adults help their parents with errands, housework, or home repairs. A 2015 Pew Research survey of caregiver statistics showed that 60% of adults with at least one parent age 65 or older say they’ve helped their parents with housework or home repairs.
Family caregivers spend an average of 24.4 hours per week providing care, and nearly ¼ of family caregivers spend 41 hours or more a week providing care.
What are the Impacts on Family Caregivers?
Unfortunately, taking care of a family member can lead to caregiver burnout. One study found that 40% to 70% of caregivers have clinically significant symptoms of depression, and female caregivers report lower levels of well-being and life satisfaction than male caregivers.
According to caregiver statistics from the National Alliance for Caregiving and the Family Caregiver Alliance, most caregivers provide care with little or no support and fewer than half of family caregivers receive the training to perform complex medical tasks required in their caregiving responsibilities. This means that not only do caregivers have to sacrifice parts of their career and personal life, but they must also teach themselves how to properly care for their loved ones.
But, there is good news! Family caregivers have a number of resources available for support, questions, and encouragement.
Where Can Family Caregivers Find Support?
If you are a family caregiver and feel close to caregiver burnout, remember the following tips to take care of both yourself and your family member:
- Take some time for yourself
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help
- Turn to outside support when needed
- Accept your feelings
- Take care of your own health
Any family caregiver looking for a support system should also visit the Family Caregiver Alliance website (FCA) for guidance and to avoid caregiver burnout. This organization’s website is an incredible resource for family caregivers, and provides information about caregiving policies across all 50 states, advocacy groups, caregiver educational opportunities, and more. A series of e-newsletters from FCA and a prolific online caregiver group help you remain connected to others in your situation and provide an outlet for you to tell your story.
Today’s state of caregiving is unlike any other because of our country’s growing senior population, increasing home care and nursing home costs, and more. Visit our blog to learn more about senior safety, caregiving resources, and more!