crowd of people drawn in crayon

It is a shame that the public still doesn’t understand the importance of caregivers. They are rarely included in popular discourse, thus remaining the “invisible patient.” Caregivers need much more financial and emotional support than they are currently receiving from employers, public services, and insurance companies. Our collective voice will grow stronger with an increased public awareness of the struggles caregivers face. So tell your family and friends, tell the world and tell yourself: caregivers matter.

Here are some important stats to have handy

  • More than 65 million people (lastest figures show 90 million), a third of the U.S. population, provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend during any given year and spend an average of 20 hours per week providing care for their loved one.
  • The value of the services family caregivers provide for “free,” when caring for older adults, is estimated to be $450 billion a year. That is almost twice as much as is actually spent on homecare and nursing home services combined ($158 billion).
  • The typical family caregiver is a 49-year-old woman caring for her widowed 69-year-old mother who does not live with her. She is married and employed.
  • Approximately 66% of family caregivers are women.
  • More than 37% of caregivers have children or grandchildren under 18 years old living with them.
  • 1.4 million children ages 8 to 18 provide care for an adult relative; 72% are caring for a parent or grandparent; and 64% live in the same household as their care recipient. Fortunately, most are not the sole caregiver.
  • 20 hours per week is the average number of hours family caregivers spend caring for their loved ones while 13% of family caregivers are providing 40 hours of care a week or more.
  • Family caregivers are the foundation of long-term care nationwide exceeding Medicaid long-term care spending in all states.

From the National Alliance of Caregiving.

Caregiving-in-USA-Stats1

Why Caregivers Matter

  • Many are baby boomer women
  • They vote
  • They have a compelling story to tell
  • They represent key American “family” values
  • They have valuable knowledge to share
  • There are a lot of us!

Why Caregivers Don’t Matter Enough

  • Many don’t identify with the label
  • Caregiving limits available time
  • Many have not translated story to political message
  • They have not mobilized their other membership organizations
  • They are unaware of their strength in numbers

From the Alzheimer’s Association Presentation on The Role of Caregivers in Advocacy

How can you help a caregiver?

Written by Alexandra Axel
Alexandra Axel was the first founding staff member at The Caregiver Space. As a New York native, Allie grew up people-watching and story-collecting, eventually pursuing her undergraduate degree from The College of New Jersey in sociology and creative writing. At The Caregiver Space, she worked with social media, graphic design, blogging, and program development to brand and grow an online community composed of, and focused on, caregivers. From the seedlings of an idea to the thriving community that it is today, Allie was there from the beginning to support the evolution of The Caregiver Space. Allie enjoys writing poetry and short fiction, devouring books, biking, crafting, urban agriculture and imperfectly cooking. She currently resides in Brooklyn with her pup, Hen.

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1 Comment

  1. Had I found this source of support ten years ago when I was searching for it, I pray it would have made a difference. I am glad the awareness is strengthening. However caregivers are just that, they are givers. And unless they burnout, they keep giving. Selfless care is often the outcome. And when caring for a family member or loved one, the dynamics can be even more intensive. Within this ten year period I have lost those loved ones I cared for. I am still grieving their loss and trying to piece my shattered life back together alone. I have more time for myself than I know what to do but with much emptiness. Yet I know I did my best.

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