Caregivers Today by Charles Watson
Posted on March 10, 2022
The number of older citizens requiring care in the United States will double by 2030. As the Baby Boomer generation moves into its golden years, caregivers will be stretched thin to meet their needs and care recipients.
Caregivers include an unseen workforce that offers dynamic support to a large number of individuals suffering from psychological, physical, and neurological problems. Caregivers are usually unpaid as they are family members who care for their loved ones and cannot afford to hire help. An estimated $470 billion annually coat would be incurred if this work were replaced with paid services.
More than 50% of caregivers had no choice in taking on the role, and the COVID-19 pandemic likely increased this rate, with 55% not known as caregivers before the pandemic.
Caregivers, caught off guard and unprepared, struggle to meet their care recipient needs' in addition to their jobs, families, and other responsibilities. They can be so overwhelmed that they abandon their care recipients at hospitals or homes, straining health care facilities.
Caregiving involves personal sacrifice and can be physically taxing and mentally exhausting. Caregivers are at a greater threat of stress and burnout and poorer mental and physical health, hindering their ability to care for others.
- 53% of caregivers report health decline.
- 70% of caregivers struggle with their mental health issues.
- In the last 30 days, 33% have considered suicide seriously; In caregivers 24 to 43 of age, this rate is closer to 45%.
While there are now about seven potential family caregivers for every older adult, by 2030, this ratio will drop to about four for every senior citizen. Surprisingly, only 13% of caregivers say anyone has ever asked about their needs.
Who Are Caregivers today?
21% of the US population or more serve as caregivers to spouses, older children, parents, and family friends suffering from an illness or disability. And others are paid caregivers.
About 72% of caregivers, both men and women, share responsibility in caring for their spouse, 21% for their children, and 7% for both. In 2020, 24% of caregivers cared for more than one person, up from 18% in 2015.
There are 44 million unpaid elderly caregivers in the US, and a staggering 75% work other jobs. And only 53% say their employers know about their added caregiving responsibilities. They also have great financial challenges and stress balancing family and work life. Caregivers aged between 18 and 49 years experienced the highest stress, likely due to higher debt, reduced savings, and trouble regulating expenditures.
Caregiving allows to give back to others, forms a tradition of care for younger generations, and can even reduce depression and anxiety rates. Despite the added obligations, about 83% of caregivers experience positive feelings. About 77% feel it has strengthened their bond with the care receiver.
- National Alliance on Mental Health: Caters to caregivers with mental illness that have unique questions and challenges.
- Family Caregiving Alliance: A national body connects caregivers to local support groups, research, resources, and policy. Consists of an online forum for the LGBTQ community.
- The Caregiver Action Network: A nationwide free of charge nonprofit services provider of education, support, and resources.
- Parent to Parent USA: An association aimed to address disabled children's needs' cared for by parents.
- Federal Support for Caregivers: Providing a wide array of resources and information, such as caregiving tips for specific illnesses and conditions, finance management, and local services. As also tips on how family members can get paid for their services.
- Resource Guides by State: A list of key programs, services, and agencies available to caregivers in every state is compiled by The American Association of Retired Persons.
- Medicare Coverage: An official government guide explains what Medicare will insure for skilled-nursing care.
- Zen Caregiving Project: Mindfulness training to caregivers on various subjects such as building resilience, self-compassion, working with grief, and managing difficult emotions.
This lack of preparation catches many caregivers off guard and makes them unrehearsed for their roles. Of those who expect that a relative or friend will need long-term care, 57% anticipate it will be someone else who provides it. The caregivers of tomorrow do not feel particularly confident about their ability to provide care.