A new study from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP finds that the number of family caregivers in the United States increased by 9.5 million from 2015-20 and now encompasses more than one in five Americans.
Caregiving in the U.S. 2020 also revealed that family caregivers are in worse health compared to five years ago. As the demand for caregiving rises with an aging population, more must be done to support this vital work. This report highlights the nearly 48 million caregivers caring for someone over the age of 18 and is available on the AARP website (aarp.org/uscaregiving).
“As we face a global pandemic, we’re relying on friends and family to care for the older adults and people living with disabilities in our lives,” said C. Grace Whiting, J.D., president and CEO of NAC. “Caregivers are essential to the nation’s public health, and the magnitude of millions of Americans providing unpaid care means that supporting caregivers can no longer be ignored. This research reveals that growing need. Family caregivers care for more people than in 2015, and they take on more care responsibilities, as roughly one in four care for two or more people. Many individuals are caring for a longer time, with nearly a third (29 percent) of caregivers nationwide reporting they have been caregiving for five years or more — up from 24 percent in the last study.”
In addition, this new study showed that the profile of the family caregiver is changing. While caregiving spans all generations, Caregiving in the U.S. 2020 found more young people providing care, including 6 percent who are Gen Z and 23 percent who are Millennials. Nearly half (45 percent) are caring for someone with two or more conditions — a significant jump from 37 percent in 2015.
Caregiving in the U.S. 2020 also found:
- Caregivers face health challenges of their own: nearly a quarter (23 percent) of caregivers find it hard to take care of their own health, and 23 percent say caregiving has made their health worse.
- Personal finances are a concern for family caregivers: 28 percent have stopped saving, 23 percent have taken on more debt and 22 percent have used up personal short-term savings.
- On average, caregivers spend 23.7 hours a week providing care, with one in three (32 percent) providing care for 21 hours or more, and one in five (21 percent) providing care for 41-plus hours — the equivalent of a full-time unpaid job.
“The coronavirus pandemic is exacerbating the challenges family caregivers were already facing from a personal health, financial and emotional standpoint,” said Susan Reinhard, RN, Ph.D., senior VP at AARP. “Family caregivers provide vital help and care for their loved ones, yet this survey shows that they keep getting stretched thinner and thinner. We must identify and implement more solutions to support family caregivers — both in the short term as we grapple with coronavirus and in the long term as our population ages and the number of family caregivers declines.”
To listen to past AARP Tele-Town Halls on caring for someone with coronavirus and other related topics, visit aarp.org.
Ron Mori is a member of the Washington, D.C., JACL chapter and manager of community, states and national affairs — multicultural leadership for AARP.