Every few years, the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP team up to survey the nation’s family caregivers and produce a massive, highly detailed study funded by Metlife. The first of these reports appeared in 1997, the next in 2004. The latest, released this week, provides an interesting picture of what’s changed in five years and what hasn’t.
The overall report, “Caregiving in the U.S. 2009” [pdf], includes people taking care of family members of any age, including children with special needs. But the researchers, helpfully, have also published a companion study of people caring for adults over 50.
It shows that elder care remains primarily women’s work and that most caregivers continue to juggle unpaid caregiving and paid work.
What’s changed? The people we take care of are older. In 2004, the proportion of elders over age 75 was 55 percent; now it’s 63 percent. We’re older, too: caregivers’ average age rose from 48 to 50. Unsurprisingly, then, a higher proportion are caring for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
But we have less paid help. The proportion whose older relatives had aides, housekeepers or other paid workers dropped to 41 percent from 46 percent; the use of paid help also declined among all caregivers. The data don’t specify why families use less paid caregiving, but AARP’s Elinor Ginzler pointed to the most plausible explanation.
“Likely, this is related to the economy,” Ms. Ginzler said this week. “They can’t afford it.”
Read the entire article here: “Who We Are Now” | NY Times