When Family Caregivers Need Help, Too

older man with cane walks arm in arm with woman

from the Beacon, by Ana Prager Hart

In the United States, families are the primary source of support for older adults and people with disabilities. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC), more than 65 million people — 29% of Americans — provide care for a chronically ill, disabled, or aged family member or friend during any given year. They spend an average of 20 hours per week providing unpaid care for their loved ones. The NAC estimates that these “free” services are valued at $375 billion annually.

Approximately 66% of family caregivers are women, and more than 37% have children or grandchildren under 18 years old living with them. Most caregivers also work part time or full time and juggle other responsibilities, thus experiencing conflicts between competing obligations.

Research has shown that caregiving takes a significant emotional, physical and financial toll. And with nearly half of all caregivers aged 50 and older, many are vulnerable to a decline in their health. In addition, 47% of working caregivers indicate that an increase in caregiving expenses has caused them to use up all or most of their savings. Coordinated support services, can reduce caregiver depression, anxiety, and stress.

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Contact the Senior HelpLine for referrals and information about local Caregiver Services.