November is Caregiver awareness month here in the United States. In today's blog we're focusing on unpaid, or informal eldercare - unpaid caregivers (be they spouses, children, partners, neighbors or others) who provide assistance to elders with activities of daily living. This assistance can range from routine tasks such as meal preparation, assistance with shopping or medical appointment setting and transportation - to bathing, dressing and feeding. As you will see, there is a whole lot of responsibility being shouldered by millions.
BY THE NUMBERS
According to a 2017 Bureau of Labor Statistics study, 41.3 million people provided unpaid eldercare in 2016. That's sixteen percent of what has been referred to by the Bureau as the "civilian noninstitutional population" over the age of 15. These numbers are expected to grow, along with our rapidly aging population. Much of this load falls on the shoulders of older Americans.
A whopping 19 percent of those providing eldercare are senior citizens themselves (people over 65). That's nearly one in five seniors. The largest age group providing care are 55 to 64 and make up 24 percent of unpaid eldercare providers. Right behind them are their younger cohorts, aged 45 to 54, who provide 21 percent of unpaid care.
Care providers aged 65 and over were most likely caring for a spouse. Those aged 35 to 64 were more likely caring for a parent and the majority of the youngest set, aged 15 to 34, were providing care for a grandparent.
While 83 percent of unpaid eldercare providers are providing care for someone they do not live with, 16 percent take care of someone in their home. Those 16 percent are more than three times as likely to be providing care on a given day than the rest of the population.
THE "SANDWICH GENERATION'
8.7 million unpaid eldercare providers are parents whose children are still living at home. Almost one half of these parents are caring for their own parent and are sometimes referred to as the "sandwich generation". Most of these folks have jobs. Sixty-four percent work full time, with dramatic differences between the genders. Eighty-six percent of fathers caring for an elder are employed full time, versus forty-eight percent of mothers.
WE SALUTE YOU
If you are among the many millions of people providing unpaid care - wherever you fall on this spectrum - we at Solutions Law Group LLC know that no matter how much you care for the person for whom you provide care, it can often feel overwhelming. We salute you. We also hope you remember to care for yourself, because you cannot pour from an empty cup. Below are some great tips on self-care & relaxation put out by @calm on twitter for #NationalRelaxationDay. We know it can be hard to fit self-care in, but you're important. Maybe try one of their suggestions a day?