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Caregivers in the U.S. - Statistics & Facts

A caregiver is a person who provides help to an individual who requires assistance with daily living due to old age, disease, a mental disorder, or disability. Caregivers can be paid, but are often unpaid family members or other persons from the individual’s social network. Typical tasks of caregivers include helping the individual to eat, bathe, dress, and use the toilet, as well as pay bills, clean the house, manage medicine, and monitor health. Caregiving can be highly stressful for caregivers, especially when caring for someone who is severely disabled or suffers from mental problems, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Most care recipients are ill adults over the age of 65 years, with sick adults aged 18 to 65 years and special needs adults and children accounting for a much smaller portion of such patients. Care is most often provided either in the home of the care recipient or the home of the caregiver and over half of caregivers report spending six or more hours per day providing care. Although almost 80 percent of caregivers in 2019 reported pride in "doing the right thing" concerning their caregiving experience, a high percentage also reported feelings of sadness and anxiety. Becoming a caregiver can be an enormous lifestyle change and many caregivers must make personal and professional sacrifices to provide care. For example, around 62 percent of caregivers reported they had less free time for themselves and 47 percent stated they had less time with their spouse, partner, or for romantic relationships.

Among those who work full or part-time jobs while caregiving, the responsibility of caregiving can prove an added burden. In 2017, around 41 percent of employed caregivers stated that their employer was very supportive of their caregiving role and only 9 percent said their employer was not supportive at all. Nevertheless, around 21 percent of employed caregivers had to reduce their working hours due to caregiving responsibilities and 13 percent had to resign from their job. In 2017, caregiving caused 35 percent of employed caregivers to miss at least one day of work, while 14 percent missed at least one week.

Most care recipients require care simply due to old age, however others require care due to a more serious and specific issue, such as cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. As of 2019, in California alone, there were over 1.6 million Alzheimer and dementia caregivers. Caring for these individuals can be particularly stressful with 86 percent of these caregivers reporting being stressed from their caregiving responsibilities compared to 72 percent of those caring for someone without the loss of mental abilities.

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