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Caregiving 101: A First Glance at Aging in America

It’s old news that we are growing older as a nation, but only four in ten Americans, aged 40 to 70, know that 60 to 70 percent of 65-year-olds today will require long-term care services at some point in their lives.

There are more than 45 million caregivers for older adults. These are people who need information and support to make their lives easier.

Who Needs Our Care?

We need to be aware of our changing demographics.  Statistics today will quickly become personal realities -- affecting our families, friends and neighbors.

The growing number of older adults will be trying to manage conditions like dementia, falls, diabetes, stroke and sensory losses. Thirteen percent of persons over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s disease. (2009 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, Washington, DC.  Alzheimer’s Association.)

Older adults face an increasing need for transportation services. The average number of years a person continued to drive -- the driving expectancy -- was significantly less than overall life expectancy.

This gap between driving expectancy and overall life expectancy means men in this age group who stopped driving were dependent on alternative transportation for an average of six years. For women, the gap translated into about 10 years dependence on other transportation modes. (Foley, DJ, Heimovitz HK, Guralnik JM, Brock DB, "Driving Life Expectancy of Persons Aged 70 Years and Older in the United States," 'American Journal of Public Health,' vol. 92, no. 8 pp. 1284-1289.)

Who are Our Caregivers?

Caregivers are not just professionals. You are a caregiver if you provide social or physical support to an aging relative or friend or to a person with a disability.

The most common type of informal caregiving relationship is an adult child caring for an older parent.

The increasing number of older adults will put even more caregiving pressure on fewer middle generation adults.

The current nursing home facilities are ill-equipped to handle the growing number of older adults and this population will be more dependent on family for care.

We would rather ignore the statistics if we are not personally affected by them. But the truth is, it’s happening sooner than we think,

It’s more common than we think,

We don’t have the information we need to provide the best care for our loved ones;

And caregiving duties will most likely fall on you or someone close to you. 

Without the right supports and information, the current situation will affect:

Our Health

Our Jobs

Most caregivers work either full or part time while providing care (59 percent). (National Alliance for Caregiving with AARP and MetLife, 2004 in addition to their caregiving responsibilities).

For some adults with heavy caregiving responsibilities, the impact on their ability to work is significant. Some working caregivers reported having to (17 percent), shift from full-time to part-time work (10 percent), quit work entirely (6 percent), lose job benefits (5 percent), turn down a promotion (4 percent), or choose early retirement (3 percent). (National Alliance for Caregiving with AARP and MetLife, 2004).

Our Finances

Over the course of a caregiving “career,” family caregivers who provide intense personal care can lose as much as $659,000 in wages, pensions, and Social Security. (Dimensions of Family Caregiving: A Look Into the Future; Metlife Mature Market Institute, 2000).

And Our Economy.

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