Saturday, September 22, 2012

How Are YOU Impacted by Eldercare?

A study released in June 2012 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that... "In 2011, 16 percent of the U.S. civilian noninstitutional population age 15 and over were eldercare providers... This and other information about eldercare providers and the time they spent providing care were collected for the first time in the 2011 American Time Use Survey (ATUS). This release also includes the average amount of time per day in 2011 that individuals spent in various activities, such as working, household activities, childcare, and leisure and sports activities."  Click here to read the full report... or go to for a great synopsis by AARP contributor Sally Abrahms.

I find these statistics provided by Ms. Abrahms to be particularly interesting...
  • 56% of the 39.8 million eldercare providers were women.
  • 23% of providers also had one or more kids at home under age 18.
  • One out of six people in the U.S., or 16% of the civilian noninstitutional population ages 15+, spent time helping elders, and
  • More than 60% of care for an older person came from someone age 45+; one-sixth by a person age 65+.
Please read the full article and see where YOU fit into this picture.  Eldercare is gaining recognition in this country... as it should!  As Ms. Abrahms points out, this will hopefully lead to increased support and lessened burdens for those who find themselves involved in eldercare.  I also am encouraged to see that many of the tasks we caregivers perform for the elderly are finally being recognized as "eldercare," such as providing housekeeping, meals and transportation, shopping, managing daily finances, and offering companionship.  For many years, "caregiving" has been considered by many to include more personal care... help with bathing and matters of personal hygiene, medical care, and physical therapy and assistance.

We had lunch yesterday with some friends we had not seen in a long time, and one of them asked, "What do you do these days?"  I laughed and told her, "We spend a lot of time taking care of others."  If you consider the time we actually spend in the physical presence of our elderly loved ones, it doesn't seem like they keep us all that busy.  But when I stop to consider the hours spent balancing checkbooks and paying bills, or shopping for personal items the ALF doesn't provide for my grandmother (like wet wipes and denture cleanser), it adds up.  I think about the morning I spent sorting clothing to find suitable warm outfits for fall and winter... and the hours I spent mending broken zippers and buttons that had fallen off of garments.  I look at the hours my husband spends mowing, trimming, weeding and fertilizing his mother's yard... or repairing broken appliances, replacing light bulbs, helping her decipher a bill or some financial decision... and even showing her pictures of her great-grandchildren on Facebook.  All of a sudden, there is little question about where the time goes!

While time-consuming and vital to daily living, the more "routine" activities that many of us take for granted, such as meal prep, balancing the checkbook and paying bills, and driving Grandma to the doctor or beauty shop, were not considered to fall under the umbrella of services offered by a bona fide "caregiver."  This is changing, thankfully.  Someone commented to the AARP article, saying he hoped that the government would do more than merely recognize that eldercare is real and vital.  This will take time.  The first step IS recognition - and awareness... and that's what I am trying to do, in part, on this blog.  By giving a voice to eldercare and the Sandwich Generation, we say, "Hey!  We're here, and this is how we are coping."  We can offer each other moral support and helpful suggestions, and we can be available for the next wave of caregivers who will surely join us.

As our population ages, this topic becomes even more important for all of us to consider.  How are you impacted by eldercare... and how might you be affected in the future? 

1 comment:

Kara said...

These are some really fascinating stats! It's nice to not feel alone and that we are part of larger community dealing with the same issues. I saw this great infographic on Alert1's Pinterest with similar data covering the same topic. Let's see how they compare!. I feel like the infographic hits all the important points...