Within the past two months, AARP released their comprehensive 2015 report on caregiving in the US. They looked at demographics, the number of hours family caregivers spend on average caring for a loved one, which IADLs (Instrumental Activities of Daily Living, or the necessary tasks you do every day) most caregivers helped with, how caregiving affected family caregivers working full-time, what percentage of caregivers employed some kind of home help, and a host of other aspects relating to family caregiving.
We thought it would be helpful for our readers to get the “Cliffs notes” version of the report, so here are some of the key findings, our analysis, and where Griswold Home Care fits into the picture!
- “On average, caregivers help their loved one with 4.2 IADLs [Instrumental Activities of Daily Living]. Most commonly, caregivers are helping with transportation (78%), grocery or other shopping (76%), and housework (72%).”
Why it matters: Notice how two out of the top 3 IADLs family caregivers help with involve leaving the house. While we don’t usually consider these activities to be social, they do involve interacting with others. Although traveling can be difficult as you age and it is always a kindness to perform errands for a loved one, it’s important to compensate for that lost social time, especially given that loneliness is a huge problem in the elderly population and carries significant health risks.
- “Caring for a close relative, like a spouse (45%) or parent (44%), is more emotionally stressful for caregivers than caring for another relative (35%) or nonrelative (18%).”
Why it matters: We’ve often heard from clients’ families that sometimes you are just “too close” to a loved one to provide 24/7 care without intense emotional stress. This study confirms that feedback. It isn’t that you don’t love your spouse or your parent; sometimes it’s that you love them so much that seeing them in pain or struggling cognitively becomes your pain, too. If so, you are clearly not alone.
- “Among caregivers whose recipient was not in a nursing home, one in three reports their loved one received paid help from aides, housekeepers, or others in the past year (32%). Caregivers that are among the most likely to report the presence of paid help include the following: Those caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia (45%), Those caring for someone with a long-term physical condition (38%), caregivers of recipients ages 65 or older (38%).”
Why it matters: Nearly half of family caregivers who receive paid help are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia. That is consistent with another statistic from the report which stated that half of family caregivers who care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s and dementia or another long-term condition report emotional stress. We think it’s important to note that this indicates that emotional stress on the family caregiver may be nearly as significant as the physical and cognitive needs of the client in terms of needing professional help.
- “More than 8 out of 10 (84%) caregivers state that they could use more information on or help with caregiving topics. Caregivers most commonly want information about keeping their loved one safe at home (42%) and about managing their own stress (42%), and 22 percent want help about making end-of-life decisions.”
Why it matters: This is why we believe in celebrating, educating, and advocating aging topics. It can be difficult to find good, trustworthy information out there for family caregivers, especially all in one place. If you’re looking for resources, feel free to explore our CaringTimes blog or our Resource Center.
- “Among working caregivers, half say their employer offers flexible work hours (53%) or paid sick days (52%). 38 Nearly a third say their employer offers paid family leave (32%), but less than a quarter offer employee assistance programs (23%) or telecommuting (22%).”
Why it matters: Earlier in the study, AARP found that 56% of employed family caregivers work full-time, so the relationship between work and caregiving is extremely important. These statistics indicate some dismal conditions: less than a quarter of employers offer employee assistance programs? Surely that adds to family caregiver stress. We’ll be digging into some more research on this one in the coming months.
Where Does Griswold Home Care Fit In?
Remember that statistic about how half of family caregivers who use professional help are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia? Or how about the one where the activities most family caregivers need help with are transportation, grocery shopping, and housework? Those are all non-medical caregiving activities, and that’s what we work with at Griswold Home Care. We refer compassionate non-medical caregivers to help families alleviate that high stress level caused by caring for loved ones with dementia and Alzheimer’s, long-term conditions, and the work/caregiving balance.
Were you surprised by any of the results in the report? Has your family caregiver experience been different? Have any questions on what else the report covered? Tell us in the comments below!