The role of family caregiver can be both rewarding and challenging. Women account for the majority of family caregivers. It is most often the spouse or oldest daughter of the senior needing care, and the caregiver is typically between the ages of 47 and 57.
Researchers estimate that 44 million Americans act as unpaid caregivers. In 2013, that support had an estimated economic value of $470 billion. Three fourths of caregivers are employed outside the home. As the population of people over the age of 65 climbs, these numbers will continue to grow.
But caregiving trends have shifted in recent years. While women still provide more care than men, things are changing. From geographic separation to more women working outside the home, the traditional image of the family caregiver has evolved.
In honor of National Family Caregiver Month, we take a look at the issues impacting family caregiving.
Who Is Caring for Our Family Elders?
Here are a few of the ways caregiving is changing across the country:
- More men are pitching in to help: In the past, women traditionally filled the role of family caregiver. Many didn’t work outside the home, so when a parent’s ability to care for themselves began to decline, an adult daughter (or daughter-in-law) stepped in to help. But as women increasingly work outside the home, men are stepping in to help fill the gap in caregiving responsibilities.
- Intergenerational caregivers: Shrinking family size means it’s not just adult children who are filling the role of caregiver. With fewer adult children to share in caregiving, grandchildren are assuming responsibilities, too. This is especially true when a grandparent moves in with the family.
- Long-distance caregivers: As families become more geographically disbursed, caregiving is often managed long-distance. Family members rely on technology, home care agencies, and senior living communities to keep their loved one happy and safe.
- More single households: Another demographic change taking place is that the number of single households is increasing. It’s given rise to informal senior neighborhoods where friends and neighbors look out and care for one another, often relying on community-based senior care programs.
- Younger caregivers: Because more people are delaying having children until later in life, family caregivers are younger than in past decades. When a family member has early-onset dementia, the children who help with caregiving might even be in junior high or high school.
- Caregiving for more years: As the average life expectancy rises, the number of years spent caregiving increase as well. According to the Family Caregiving Alliance, the average duration of caregiving is four years. Only 30 percent of caregivers provide care for less than one year.
Respite Care for Short-Term Support
One option designed to give caregivers a break is a respite stay. These short-term care services are offered at assisted living and memory care communities across the country. A senior becomes a guest of the care community for a few days or weeks, giving the family caregiver an opportunity to have some time to themselves.
To learn more about respite services at Sunrise, please call (888) 434-4648. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and help you find the Sunrise community nearest you.
Source: Sunrise Senior Living