Caregiving Statistics

written by Kevin K. Johnson, CSA

Our “Eldercare and the Workplace” blog developed from my personal experiences as a member of corporate management and also from my current experience as a caregiver for my parents; both in their 80’s. My last blog posting focused on the issue of “Alzheimer’s Disease and Workplace Productivity“, and focused on quantifying the specific percentage of workers that are impacted by that specific form of dementia. While researching that narrow topic I wondered about just how prevalent caregiving was overall. While I know caregiving is a major issue for people from all walks of life, and that caregiving was costly to employers (productivity), I wondered what percentage of our population was really impacted by the need to provide caregiving services to elders.

A 2009 comprehensive study (most current information) by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP found that 44.4 million Americans age 18 or older are providing unpaid care to an adult. If we had to pay for this care, it would cost approximately $257 billion per year. From previous research that I’ve presented in a prior blog posting on this site, employer lost productivity due to employees providing caregiving services to their elders approaches $33 billion per year.

Very generally speaking, the typical caregiver is a 46-year-old Baby Boomer woman with some college education who works and spends more than 20 hours per week caring for her mother or father who lives nearby. Additionally,

  • Female caregivers provide more hours of care and provide a higher level of care than male caregivers.
  • Almost seven in ten (69%) caregivers say they help one person.
  • The average length of caregiving is 4.3 years.
  • Many caregivers fulfill multiple roles. Most caregivers are married or living with a partner (62%), and most have worked and managed caregiving responsibilities at the same time (74%).

Regarding “caregivers and work” almost 60% of all caregivers either work or have worked while providing care.

  • 62 percent have had to make adjustments to their work life, such as reporting late to work or giving up work entirely.
  • Male caregivers are more likely to be working full or part-time than female caregivers (66% vs. 55%)

Regarding the question of “who do caregivers care for” most caregivers (89%) are helping relatives.

  • Nearly 80% of care recipients are over fifty with the other 20% 18-49.
  • Caregivers who help someone age 50 or older say the most common health problems the person they care for has are diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
  • One quarter of caregivers helping someone age 50 or older reports the person they care for is suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other mental confusion.

Finally regarding “caregivers’ unmet needs“:

  • The most frequently reported unmet needs are finding time for myself (35%), managing emotional and physical stress (29%), and balancing work and family responsibilities (29%).
  • About three in ten caregivers say they need help keeping the person they care for safe (30%) and finding easy activities to do with the person they care for (27%).
  • One in five caregivers say they need help talking with doctors and other healthcare professionals (22%) or making end-of-life decisions (20%).

Today’s workplace is challenging enough. Employers are squeezing every bit of productivity possible from the workplace to meet their objectives. These statistics tell us one reason why maximum workplace productivity is a growing challenge to employers.

It’s why we work so hard to help employers successfully manage this invasive workplace issue.

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