Family caregiving happens at varying points throughout most everyone’s life span. Although caregiving has traditionally been considered an “unofficial” aspect of health care, many policymakers and stakeholders now recognize that family caregivers provide vital services and, in many instances, function as health service workers on the front line.

When you’re the one providing care, the daily tasks of being a caregiver seem routine. You feel the same thing every day. You assist your elderly loved one from the time they awaken in the morning until they go back to bed in the evening.  Each day you prepare meals, do laundry, clean them, the house and whatever is necessary to ensure a safe and stable environment.  Then you repeat again the next day. The work a caregiver is doing is crucial, however, and the facts about caregivers are much more interesting than one might believe.

Below are the 10 interesting facts about caregiving. If you know someone who provides care for a loved one, thank them from the bottom of your heart.

  1. The US has millions of caregivers.

Have you ever felt alone as a caregiver? Well, you are not alone. In fact, according to AARP, more than 40 million individuals are currently serving as family caregivers in the United States. Most assist elderly relatives or grandparents. Moreover, the percentage of senior citizens in the nation is increasing as the generation of Baby Boomer ages into their golden years. That implies the number of family members who will become caregivers is going to increase in the future.

2. Caregiving has some “haves” and “have-nots.”

Caregivers are divided into two categories: those who live separate from their loved ones and those who provide 24/7 care to family members living with them.  Those who leave to go home have more freedom in their personal lives than those who live with their loved one. Housing arrangements provide a degree of freedom for caregivers. At the end of a day the caregiver providing 24/7 care may find peace in having some time alone to regroup and prepare for tomorrow. The caregiver who lives separate from their loved one has more freedom to participate in other activities. Statistics show that 60% of the family caregivers live with the person whom they are caring for.

3. Caregiving has shifted from being a nursing-related career into a family matter.

Have you ever recalled being a child and the family traveled to the nursing home to visit Grandpa on Sundays? Now, for a large number of families, it is cost prohibitive to place elderly loved ones in an assisted-living center, nursing home, or other senior living community. The once sterling places that provided our loved ones with care now largely falls to untrained family caregivers.  Many were forced to assume the role of caregivers in addition to their own jobs and family responsibilities.

4. Caregivers can be of any age.

Statistics indicate that the average age of caregivers ranges from 45 to 64. The stark reality is that only about 17% of caregivers are in that age bracket.  In addition, ten million millennials are now serving as caregivers.

5. Both men and women are caregivers.

While studies show that 65% of caregivers are women, today more and more, men also provide care to their parents or a spouse. Unfortunately, men do not get the same recognition as women.  Men face the same emotional ups and downs and problems as female caregivers experience and require the same support.

6. Caregivers spend a great deal of time on care-related duties.

According to Caregiver Alliance, the average caregiver spends approximately 13 days per month shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, providing transportation, and administering medications and an additional 6 days on average providing personal care like feeding, dressing, and bathing. Moreover, caregivers spend 13 hours on average each month learning how to care for certain medical conditions, scheduling appointments, and assisting with finances.

7. Caregivers regard their as role very rewarding.

While being a caregiver is sometimes challenging and difficult, it is rewarding for most individuals. Indeed, a study by Pew Research demonstrates that 88% of caregivers find the role more rewarding than stressful. They are generally comfortable about their role in providing a family members’ care.

8. Even caregivers need help.

It is no secret that the support programs which provide for the needs of caregivers are chronically underfunded.  Most often today one child or sibling is responsible for the elder parent’s care in a family.  Caregivers are often unaware that there are programs which provide respite, emotional, spiritual and financial support. Most communities have organizations devoted to providing support to family caregivers.

9. Caregivers live longer.

While caregivers have a greater risk of having health problems such as depression, anxiety, chronic disease, or stroke, a latest survey by Johns Hopkins of 3,500 family caregivers discovered that those who cared for a chronically ill loved one had an 18% survival advantage over non-caregivers. Caregivers were found to live for nine years longer, over the course of the six-year study.

10. Caregiving helps to self-identify.

In the U.S., after self-identifying, more than 90% of family caregivers become proactive and begin to look for resources that can provide assistance and to develop better caregiving abilities.

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