Adults providing unpaid care on the rise
The trend continues, but even at a faster rate than many believed. A newly released Pew Internet Health Tracking Survey has found that nearly four out of 10 U.S. adults (39%) provide unpaid care for a loved one, up from 30% in 2010.
Contrary to many in the health care industry who thought that females were the primary caregivers, the study shows that 40% of women and 37% percent of men report they are caregivers. People age 50-64 are most likely to be caregiving (44%) but not by a very wide margin over other age groups.
Other interesting data from the report includes:
75% of U.S. adults age 65-and-older are living with a chronic condition such as high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease.
39% of caregivers manage medications for a loved one. 7% use online or mobile tools to do so.
90% of caregivers own a cell phone. 37% of these have used it to look for health or medical information online.
Only 84% of non-caregivers own a cell phone and 27% have used their phones to look online for health information.
86% of caregivers have internet access, compared to 78% of non-caregivers.
84% of caregivers with internet access went online within the past year to research health topics. By comparison, 74% of non-caregivers with internet access did the same.
72% of caregivers overall are online health seekers, compared to just 50% of non-caregivers.
59% of caregivers with internet access say that online resources have been helpful to their ability to provide care and support for the person in their care.
52% of caregivers with internet access say that online resources have been helpful to their ability to cope with the stress of being a caregiver.
No surprise, younger caregivers are more likely than older ones to report that the internet has been helpful to their ability to provide care and support, and that the internet has been helpful in coping with related stress.
Caring for others’ information needs is a common activity among all internet users. 63% of caregivers say their last search was on behalf of someone else, compared with 47% of non-caregivers.
Some 36% of U.S. adults surveyed say they have provided unpaid care to an adult in the past year, up from 27% in 2010. This unpaid care may include help with personal needs or household chores, managing a person’s finances, arranging for outside services or visiting regularly to see how they are doing.
Two-thirds (66%) say they care for one adult, while one-third care for more than one adult.
Support for this study was provided by the California HealthCare Foundation, an independent philanthropy committed to improving the way health care is delivered and financed in California.
Among its conclusions, the report states that “these days, caregivers are health information specialists. They have the safety, comfort and even the life of a loved one in their hands. They are asked to perform a dizzying array of medical and personal tasks outside clinical settings and the stakes are very high.”
You can read more about the study and download the full report at http://www.pewinternet.org.
Frank M. Samson, CSA is a Certified Senior Advisor and Founder of Senior Care Authority based in Sonoma (Seniorcareauthority.com.) The company provides support to families throughout California in helping them locate the best In-Home Care, Dementia Care, Independent and Assisted Living for their loved ones. Frank also hosts “The Aging Boomers” on KSVY 91.3FM and Sunfmtv.com. Reach him at .939.8744 or Frank@seniorcareauthority.com.