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  • Pauline Hoffmann

National Family Caregivers Month

Here's to all family caregivers - a big virtual hug!

November is National Family Caregivers Month. If you are or have been a caregiver, you know how incredibly important the job is but also how taxing it may be.

This week we welcome Ann Battaglia, chief executive officer of Healthy Community Alliance, to the podcast. We discussed many statistics around family caregivers as well as resources and options available for caregivers. [In the spirit of full disclosure, I am on the Board of Directors for the Healthy Community Alliance.]

The data are grim. The AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving conduct a survey every five years to determine trends in caregiving in the United States. Below is an infographic summary of the most recent survey.

In addition, has an incredible clearinghouse of data related to caregiving. Please take a look here. Below I have noted some key data insights from the site for easy reference:

  • The value of the services family caregivers provide for "free," when caring for older adults, is estimated to be $375 billion a year. That is almost twice as much as is actually spent on homecare and nursing home services combined ($158 billion)

  • More than 65 million people, 29% of the U.S. population, provide care for a chronically ill, disabled, or aged family member or friend during any given year and spend an average of 20 hours per week providing care for their loved one.

  • The typical family caregiver is a 49-year-old woman caring for her widowed 69-year-old mother who does not live with her. She is married and employed. Approximately 66% of family caregivers are women. More than 37% have children or grandchildren under 18 years old living with them.

  • 20 hours per week is the average number of hours family caregivers spend caring for their loved ones while 13% of family caregivers are providing 40 hours of care a week or more.

  • 14% of family caregivers care for a special needs child with an estimated 16.8 million caring for special needs children under 18 years old. 55% of these caregivers are caring for their own children.

  • 78% of adults living in the community and in need of long-term care depend on family and friends as their only source of help.

  • Women who are family caregivers are 2.5 times more likely than non-caregivers to live in poverty and five times more likely to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

  • Caregiving families (families in which one member has a disability) have median incomes that are more than 15% lower than non-caregiving families. In every state and DC the poverty rate is higher among families with members with a disability than among families without.

  • 47% of working caregivers indicate an increase in caregiving expenses has caused them to use up ALL or MOST of their savings.

  • Nearly three quarters (72%) of family caregivers report not going to the doctor as often as they should and 55% say they skip doctor appointments for themselves. 63% of caregivers report having poor eating habits than non-caregivers and 58% indicate worse exercise habits than before caregiving responsibilities.

  • 20% of employed female caregivers over 50 years old report symptoms of depression compared to 8% of their non-caregiving peers.

  • Six in 10 family caregivers are employed.

  • American businesses can lose as much as $34 billion each year due to employees' need to care for loved ones 50 years of age and older.

  • Caregivers caring for elderly loved ones cost employers 8% more in health care costs estimated to be worth $13.4 billion per year.

We touch on several ways caregivers may take care of themselves. Mayo Clinic published a wonderful article detailing many of those tactics. Additionally, take a look at the Healthy Community Alliance website for resources in our area of Western New York State.

If you don't live in rural New York, we suggest that you contact your local Office for Aging. You may certainly Google "Office for Aging" and then include your town, county or state. Or you may use the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website to access resources as well as find additional resources near you.

Ann and I did end our podcast session by talking about Thanksgiving, family and traditions. Country Living Magazine notes 30 different traditions you may already be doing on Thanksgiving, but some you may want to try. I wish you well this November (splitting the wishbone is one tradition).

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