The aging population, the boomer generation, longer life expectancies, more chronic illness…all add up to a greater role for elderly care management in the lives of today’s families.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics gathers data on Americans’ time use (how they spent the last 24 hours) and they added eldercare activities to the questions in 2011 so we now have some up-to-date numbers on unpaid elderly care activities. Here are some of the statistics revealed in that survey:
- 39.8 million people were providing unpaid care to someone over age 65 due to a condition related to aging.
- 56% of those caregivers were women (a lower percentage than in many past studies, indicating more men being involved in this role).
- 23% of elderly care givers were parents of 1 or more children under 18 in their household.
- The majority of care recipients lived in a separate household from the elder caregiver.
- About 30% provided care to more than 1 person.
We all have anecdotal evidence of the pervasiveness of caregiving amongst ourselves and family and friends, but this survey confirms the solid role that elder care management is having in Americans’ lives. It also reveals some of the complexities that caregivers face, such as also caring for children, managing elder care for more than one person and living away from care recipients. We recently covered a number of these issues (and tips to help) in our article about the “sandwich generation”.
The extent that elderly care management has reached in to our day-to-day lives with longer life expectancies and more chronic illness has pretty far reaching implications. First, it is a positive reminder that families do provide a lot of care and support for loved ones, when sometimes there is a tendency to say we don’t do that “like we did in the good old days”. Of course, as the study indicates, the circumstances may be different, with more care being provided while living separately and more people working and caring for children while also managing elder care. We also know that elder caregiving can have big impacts on caregivers, not only emotionally, but also financially in real and opportunity costs. Caregivers often help assist with elderly parents’ costs or give up job opportunities or extra work to be available for elder care needs.
At Aging Wisely, we work with many families who are doing their best to provide great elderly care management for those they love. We see their struggles and understand both the personal nature of the journey as well as the common challenges.
We’d love to hear from you about some of the challenges you have faced as a caregiver and how we can help or what information you would find most useful.
We have developed two primary resource centers for quick references for caregivers, in addition to our blog and social media channels. Check out the handouts at our Eldercare Resource Center on a wide array of topics and our Floida Senior Care links page under our “Resources” section.
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