According to a 2016 report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, there are primarily two categories of caregiver:
- Caregivers who assist an older adult with any need because of health or functioning deficiencies
- Caregivers who assist “high need” older adults with probable dementia or with at least two self-care activities (bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, transferring in and out of bed)
According to According to the National Study of Caregiving (NSOC), approximately 17.7 million individuals, which is about 7.7% of the population in the United States who are 20 years of age or older, who are caregivers of an older adult because of health or functioning reasons. Approximately half of those caregivers (8.5 million) provide care to an older adult with high needs. For most caregivers, this is a long-term responsibility. Consider that:
- Only 15% of caregivers in the NCOS study provided care for less than one year
- Approximately 70% of caregivers provided care for 2-10 years
- About 15% of caregivers provided care for longer than 10 years
For most caregivers of older adults, the longer a caregiver provides care, the more likely it is that the caregiver will suffer negative consequences, which may include:
- Social isolation
- Financial losses
The two categories of caregiver may also be distinguished between:
- Primary caregivers (have primary responsibility for, or spend the most time, providing care)
- Secondary caregivers (provide intermittent supplementary or complementary assistance)
The typical primary caregiver:
- Is usually a spouse or daughter
- Provides more hours of care than secondary caregivers
- Makes the majority of decisions about care
Secondary caregivers are usually men and non-relatives. It is common for caregiving to be distributed among multiple family members, there is not a lot of data that demonstrates the number of persons who provide secondary care, the type of care they provide, or whether they bring support or conflict to the caregiving dynamic within the family.
What to Expect As a Caregiver
Many caregivers are relied upon to provide care to an older adult more than once in the caregiver’s life.
There are many unknown variables that may affect the amount of time over the remainder of their lives that young adults (over age 20) and adults in their 50’s or 60’s may spend providing care.
Although no data exists, it is estimated that the difference in numbers between those who will be caregivers at some point in their lives and those who will never be caregivers is substantial.
What Characteristics Do Caregivers Possess?
Statistics show that caregivers are predominantly middle-aged daughters, daughter-in-laws, or spouses of the care recipient.
With family dynamics changing and the number of immediate family members decreasing, caregivers are having to travel further to provide care, which can be expensive and can cause difficulties communicating with the care recipient or other caregivers.
Data from studies on caregivers demonstrates the need for caregivers to reach out to home care providers to assist in providing care. If you are a caregiver, call our home care agency today to get the help you need.