Record 42 Million family caregivers face unprecedented stress since COVID-19New report from Seniorly shows a record 42 million Americans are serving as family caregivers and spending more than one quarter of household income caring for loved ones in need. View full report here.
A record 42 million Americans are serving as caregivers for an aging parent, spouse or someone who struggles to complete daily life activities.
Among the 54 million Americans 65 or older, there is a 70 percent chance that at some point, they’ll require long-term care services, and for most people, that care is provided in their homes and often by those who are unpaid, such as spouses, adult children, and other loved ones.
With the population of Americans 65 and older expecting to grow by almost 50 percent between now and 2040, the state of caregiving in the U.S. is likely to get more daunting.
Paid care in residential facilities is expensive and often is not covered by Medicare. That is why many families resort to unpaid, at-home care, which creates challenges all its own, as families struggle to manage the tasks that come with such care.
COVID-19 has created unprecedented burdens for caregivers. Especially those in the “Sandwich Generation” who live in multigenerational households with their older parents and their own children.
Seniorly wanted to explore caregiver fatigue in the U.S., including the toll on those normally tasked with it, as well as in which states the strain on caregivers may be the greatest.
A few key findings:
- One in six adults care for adult relatives 50 and older who have illnesses or disabilities
- 60% of employed family caregivers work full time
- Out-of-pocket costs for caregivers are on average 26% of household income and worse for minorities — Latinos (47%) and African Americans (34%)
- It costs $28,000 per year to pay private care providers for the services family caregivers provide
- Hawaii, California, and Texas have the most multigenerational households.
Unprecedented Number of Americans Serving as Family Caregivers
As mentioned above, 42 million Americans — roughly one in six U.S. adults — provide care for adult relatives with illnesses or disabilities over the age of 50, according to the AARP’s most recent estimates. That figure has grown by nearly 25 percent over the past half-decade as the Baby Boomer cohort continues to age.
Parents account for the biggest group when it comes to the caregiver’s relationship to the recipient, with about 50 percent of people who provide care to an adult doing so for a parent (or parent-in-law). Spouses are the next-biggest group at 12 percent.
Women are more likely than men to provide care to family members or other loved ones, accounting for 61 percent of caregivers, and female caregivers are more likely to be providing care for more than one person (27 percent vs. 20 percent for male caregivers).
Family caregivers are also more likely than not to be employed, and 60 percent of employed family caregivers work full-time. With most states not guaranteeing paid family leave — California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Washington being the exceptions that do — many caregivers are forced into a “double shift” in which they finish their workday and then do more unpaid work in the form of providing care to an adult loved one.
Financial Strain on Family Caregivers
In addition to the need to provide a raft of services on top of their job responsibilities, many family caregivers are financially strained as a result. Almost 80 percent of family caregivers report paying out-of-pocket costs, spending an average of $7,242 — or 26% of their income — per year, an AARP analysis found.
The financial strain was worse for minority communities with Hispanic/Latino caregivers spending 47% and African American spending 34% of their income.
Family Caregiving Tips
Even in the best of times, caring for an aging loved one can be incredibly stressful. Here are some tips to help family caregivers cope.
- Build a community with other caregivers: We know that millions of Americans are providing unpaid care services for loved ones. That means you are far from alone, and other caregivers are an important resource for helping you adjust and receive support.
- Take care of yourself: You won’t be of any use to your loved one if you fall apart physically or mentally. So that means taking time for yourself and ensuring that your body and mind are as healthy as they can be, including looking out for signs of depression or burnout.
- Stay organized: It’s likely you’ll need to speak with doctors and other care providers on behalf of your loved one. Make sure you have all the documents you need, including power of attorney if necessary. Write down the medications your loved one takes and document any procedures they undergo.
- Ask for help and be specific: Most people want to help their friends and family in every way they can, but few people know what needs to be done. If you have had offers of help from people in your circle, determine what tasks they would be up for doing and assign them the job.
Family caregiving has risen rapidly over the past several years, and as the share of older Americans keeps rising, there is no reason to think this trend won’t continue. While there is hope that our government will enact reforms to ease the burden, caregivers should know that they are not alone and can seek help and support.