New Numbers on Senior Care
In 2003, the Bureau of Labor Statistics began calling random Americans and asking them how they spent their previous 24 hours. The results make up the American Time Use Survey – everything from shopping to making phone calls. Only last year did the bureau start asking how many of us are involved in elder care. The 2011 results revealed 39.8 million over the age of 15 provide unpaid care to a family member or friend over the age of 65.
Here are some other interesting statistics from 2011’s report:
- Between 22 and 23 percent of those ages 45 to 64 identify themselves as senior caregivers
- 16 percent of the 65+ age group identify themselves as caregivers
- Nearly one third of all caregivers take care of two seniors or more
- 23 percent of family caregivers have a small child at home
- 56 percent of care providers are women
- 20 percent of caregivers provide care daily, 24 percent provide semi-weekly care, and 20 percent provide care once a week
Potential Inaccuracies of the Caregiver Report
While it’s certainly good to know how many of our nation’s citizens are providing unpaid care, the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s report may not be entirely accurate.
The survey uses a very broad definition of “caregiver.” A person qualifies if they provide unpaid care – of any kind – more than once in the past three months, regardless of how long they spent doing so.
So a 17-year old who paid three fifteen-minute visits to his grandfather (once each month) is considered an elder care provider. Is he really?
Another variable to consider: not all caregivers consider themselves as such. A spouse that takes care of a disabled mate may consider her responsibilities just another part of marriage. An adult child may believe taking care of her elderly mother is simply the right thing to do, and doesn’t necessarily categorize herself as a family caregiver. It may be difficult to distinguish who really is an elder care provider. Regardless, the survey results show that, as a whole, our nation is very involved in caregiving.
The data gathered by elder care research studies and national surveys will continue to aid the senior care industry and all its participants.