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Special Feature “Informal caregivers”

Special Feature “Informal caregivers” are family members or friends who are not paid and assist older adults who have functional limitations with everyday tasks such as bathing, dressing, preparing a meal, or managing money. Informal caregivers are a diverse population that includes spouses, children, and other relatives such as daughters-in-law, grandchildren, and friends.

• In 2011, an estimated 18 million informal caregivers provided 1.3 billion hours of care on a monthly basis.

• More informal caregivers were women (11.1 million) than men (6.9 million), and about half of informal caregivers were middle-aged (ages 45–64).

• Almost half of informal caregivers were a child of the care recipient. Although spouses made up only 21 percent of informal caregivers, they accounted for more than 31 percent of the total hours of informal care provided.

• Some types of care provided differ by caregiver gender. For example, men were more likely to provide assistance with mobility, whereas women were more likely to assist with self-care and medical care.

• Most informal caregivers reported positive impacts of caregiving; however, almost half said they have things they cannot handle or do not have enough time for themselves.

Who are caregivers?

Do you identify yourself as a caregiver?  According to Merriam Webster a person who gives help and protection to someone (such as a child, an old person, or someone who is sick).  However many of us who are providing ‘help’ are reticent caregivers. 

 

Many of us come from cultures that value intergenerational homes and norms making caregiving obligations a birth right.  What the dictionary calls caregiving just means an expected contribution to the family.  

 

The Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics (Forum) was initially established in 1986, with the goal of bringing together Federal agencies that share a common interest in improving aging-related data.

●     In 2011, an estimated 18 million informal caregivers provided 1.3 billion hours of care on a monthly basis

●      More informal caregivers were women (11.1 million) than men (6.9 million), and about half of informal caregivers were middle-aged (ages 45–64). • Almost half of informal caregivers were a child of the care recipient.

●      Although spouses made up only 21 percent of informal caregivers, they accounted for more than 31 percent of the total hours of informal care provided.

●     75% of caregivers are the sole providers for care recipients

●     Over 50% of all caregivers hold a full time paid employment along with caregiving

●     Female caregivers lose over $320,000.00 in wages, retirement and other benefits over the course of worklife.

●     Male caregivers lose over $240,000.00 in wages, retirement and other benefits over the course of worklife

●     One in five caregivers who have provided care for at least a year feels financial strain

●     Single woman who leave paid employment to provide caregiving are more likely fall into poverty and never recover

●     30% of full time caregivers die before the person for which they care and 40% die if they are caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease

read more at 2015_CaregivingintheUS_Final-Report-June-4_WEB

 

Caregiving requires a multitude of physical, mental and emotional skills to complete nursing tasks, activities of daily living, medication management,  financial/legal services and many other duties on a daily basis.  Many are doing these tasks without hesitation to maximum the quality of life for the care recipients.  Many of these unacknowledged caregivers today live just a hair from the breaking point, but remain silent.  

 

It’s time we encourage all the overworked unidentified caregivers to come out of the shadows.   All family and unpaid caregivers deserve our support and legal protections.  Workplace protection for those who need flexible schedules, creative use of the family and medical leave act and other accommodations making caregiving a valued role. 

 

Healthcare providers today need to collaborate for the sake of those getting care as well as caregiver.  Our unpaid caregivers are our honored first responders to the crisis of our most vulnerable.  Join us at REUNIONCare in changing the way we care for each other.  We build Circles of Care around those we love.  Stand up and be counted caregivers.   We can’t live without you! 

 

JR KeeneComment