A new joint research study conducted by the National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP Public Policy Institute, Caregiving in the U.S. 2015, released on June 4, highlights the challenges unpaid family caregivers and their loved ones face, and the caregiving solutions needed. Not only does this study build on previous such studies conducted by NACS and AARP in 1997, 2004, and 2007, these advocacy groups say this new research provides an even better baseline for identifying today’s family caregiver and changes to caregiving in the future.
Here are several emerging trends in family caregiving highlighted in the report, along with my insights on why your homecare business should keep these in mind:
Changing caregiver demographics: While women still carry the bulk of caregiving duties–the average caregiver is a 49 year old woman who takes care of an elderly relative—men now make up 40 percent of family caregivers, providing 23 hours of care weekly. And middle age caregivers no longer have a monopoly. As the parent-child age gap continues to rise, Millennials, those between 18 and 34, now make up 25 percent of family caregivers. And as we continue to live longer, though not necessarily healthier, there has been an increase in caregivers age 75 or older, usually caring for an ill spouse. These seniors often go it alone or seek help from friends and family.
Caregivers aren’t a single demographic and their needs aren’t a one-size-fits-all, which is why it’s crucial for your home care business to showcase the depth and breadth of services it offers, for both the caregiver and their loved ones.
The rise of higher-hour caregivers: This growing category encompasses caregivers who provide at least 21 hours a week of unpaid care, have been doing so for an average of 5 ½ years and are expected to continue providing such care for another 5 years.
Higher-hour caregivers can easily suffer caregiver burn out much more quickly than the occasional family caregiver. The study found 46 percent of higher-hour caregivers report high emotional stress. Home care agencies provide valuable services to these caregivers, in terms of not just daily task management, but also respite care. In order for family caregivers to continue clocking in these hours for the next five years, they need to all focus on themselves. The support of a respected home care agency and its well-trained staff can help these caregivers see that they should put themselves first, and give them the tools to do so, without compromising the level of care they expect for their loved ones.
Growing financial strains: The financial strain of caregiving continues to be a major factor in caregiver stress. Caregivers reported an average household income of $45,700. Higher-hour caregivers, specifically, reported difficulty finding affordable options within their communities, including affordable in-home health services. In addition, four out of 10 long-distance caregivers use paid services to care for their loved one, but 21 percent of those who lived more than an hour away reported feeling a financial strain.
It’s our job in home care to be seen as an ally on this caregiving journey, demonstrating that the benefits of our services far outweigh the costs. If a caregiver doesn’t feel she is getting what she paid for, that could compound her feelings of financial strain.
Home care reduces some of the burdens these family caregivers face. At corecubed, we help you market your homecare business more effectively to reach out to caregivers and meet their needs. We can also help with staff training, to help your business attract and retain the best and brightest so that your services are seen as a benefit, not just a cost. It’s not about lowering costs or offering the cheapest option available, but the best options and services available to assist these families where they are at, both financially and emotionally.