For years, I helped my mom and dad as they got older. While it was an honor and a privilege, it could also, at times, be stressful and heartbreaking.
The photo is of my folks and me after my dad retired.
Most boomers want to "age in place," so they likely will be relying on family members to help them stay in their homes.
It’s National Family Caregivers Month and the theme is “Family Caregivers – Now More Than Ever.”
The Caregiver Action Network offers these facts and figures on America’s caregivers:
Every year, more Americans are caring for loved ones with chronic conditions, disabilities, or health problems as they age. There are as many as 90 million family caregivers in the United States today.
- Two out of every five adults are family caregivers. Thirty-nine percent of all adult Americans are caring for a loved one who is sick or disabled – up from 30 percent in 2010.
- Alzheimer’s is driving the numbers up. More than 15 million family caregivers are providing care to more than five million loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease.
- But it’s not just the elderly who need caregiving. The number of parents caring for children with special needs is increasing, too, due to the rise in cases of many childhood conditions.
- Wounded veterans require family caregivers, too. As many as one million Americans are caring in their homes for service members from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who are suffering from traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other wounds and illnesses.
- Family caregiving is serious work. Almost half of family caregivers perform complex medical/nursing tasks for their loved ones – such as managing multiple medications, providing wound care, and operating specialized medical equipment.
- Family caregivers are the backbone of the nation’s long-term care system. Family caregivers provide $450 billion worth of unpaid care every year. That’s more than total Medicaid funding, and twice as much as homecare and nursing home services combined.
For more information on caregiving, see the Administration on Aging's November is National Caregivers Month. The agency offers the following information on caregivers:
- 65.7 million caregivers make up 29 percent of the U.S. adult population providing care to someone who is ill, disabled, or an older adult.
- More women than men are caregivers. An estimated 66 percent are female. One-third take care of two or more people, and the average age of a female caregiver is 48.
- While caregivers can be different ages, the average age of caregivers is 48 years; about 51 percent of caregivers are between the ages of 18 and 49.
- Many caregivers of older people are themselves older adults. Of those caring for a person age 65 plus, the average age of caregivers is 63 years with one third of these caregivers in fair to poor health.
With the number of family caregivers growing every year, it’s important to recognize the important role that family caregivers play.