September 12, 2011

Data from many studies and reports reveal the following information about caregivers:

  • The “typical” U.S. caregiver is a 46-year-old woman who works outside the home and spends more than 20 hours per week providing unpaid care to her mother.  Most caregivers are married or living with a partner.
  • While caregivers can be found across the age span, the majority of caregivers are middle-aged (35-64 years old).
  • Most caregivers are employed. Among caregivers age 50-64 years old, an estimated 60% are working full or part-time.
  • Studies show that ethnic minority caregivers provide more care than their white counter-parts and report worse physical health than white caregivers.
  • Many caregivers of older people are themselves elderly. Of those caring for someone aged 65+, the average age of caregivers is 63 years with one third of these caregivers in fair to poor health.
  • Nearly half of caregivers provide fewer than eight hours of care per week, while nearly one in five provide more than 40 hours of care per week.  A statewide California study of caregivers of adults with cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer's showed that caregivers provided an average of 84 hours of care per week, the equivalent of more than two full-time jobs.  Older caregivers often spend the most hours providing care and the amount of time spent caring increases substantially as cognitive impairment worsens.
  • Caregiving can last from less than a year to more than 40 years. In a 2003 study, caregivers were found to spend an average of 4.3 years providing care. Older caregivers (50+) are more likely to have been caregiving for more than 10 years (17%).
  • Most caregivers live near the people they care for. Eighty-three percent of caregivers care for relatives, with 24% living with the care recipient, 61% living up to one hour away, and 15%—or about 7,000,000 caregivers—living a one- to two- hour drive or more away.


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