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Increasing Need for Caregivers and Senior Care

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A recent study conducted by Pew Research Center reports that close to four in 10 U.S. adults are caregivers. Of the American participants, 39% stated that they provide unpaid care for a loved one, representing a 9% increase in U.S. adult caregivers since 2010. This report is the first national study that sheds light on the large increase in the senior population and the implications on nationwide health and caregiving trends.

More than 3,000 American men and women participated in this national survey and 36% declared that they provide unpaid care for an adult with disabilities or chronic health conditions. Out of those caregivers, 2/3 said they care for one adult and 1/3 claimed they care for more than one adult. Almost half of those caregivers stated that they are caring for their parent or parent-in-law. Although there is an increasing need for senior care, most caregivers have little to no training, feel ill-equipped and found medication management challenging.

The study also explored caregivers’ interaction with the internet and other online resources. The study reports that “caregivers are heavy technology users and are more likely than other adults to take part in a wide range of health related activities”. Pew Research Center indicates that over 72% of caregivers use the internet as an online resource for medical advice and 52% state that online resources have helped them cope with the stress of caregiving. Although caregivers are more likely to experience a serious medical emergency and health issues than non-caregiving adults, the study found that caregivers are also more likely to track health indicators, watch nutrition and diet and be more aware of their health status.

With an aging population, these trends are only expected to increase and additional service providers and other resources will be needed to meet the rising need for senior care.

Source: Susannah Fox, Maeve Duggan, & Kristen Purcell (2013). Family Caregivers are Wired for Health. Pew Research Center.

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