Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Some Facts on Aging and Care Giving

As Baby Boomers age, caring for our parents is becoming a way of life for an increasing number of women, many of whom still have children at home. I’m at the front end of the Baby Boom, so we can only expect the needs and issues to increase. I guess the good news is that we aren’t alone. And in fact, it seems that everyone I talk to is providing some level of care for their parents. It’s becoming the new hot topic of conversation, at least for those of us who are in the midst of it. Many, like me, live several hours from the parents needing care. Clearly, we need to learn new ways of managing life if we are to honor our parents in their latter years. And if we don’t, who will?

In their Profile of Informal and Family Caregivers, the American Society on Aging reports:

  • Nearly one out of every four U.S. households (23 percent, or 22.4 million) provides care to a relative or friend aged 50 or older.

  • About 15 percent of U.S. adults care for a seriously ill or disabled family member.

  • About 13.3 million people -- 7 percent of U.S. adults -- are spouses or adult children of disabled older people and have the potential responsibility for their care. Of these, about 85 percent (or 11.4 million) are adult children.

  • Care giving is largely women's issue. Nearly three out of four (72 percent) caregivers are female.

  • The average caregiver is 57 years old.

  • More than one in three caregivers are an older adult herself: one quarter are between 65 and 75 years old, and another 10 percent are at least 75 years of age.

  • Nearly 23 percent of caregivers are wives, 13 percent are husbands, 29 percent are adult daughters, and 9 percent are sons.

  • Between 20 percent and 40 percent of caregivers are in the "sandwich generation," with children under age 18 to care for in addition to their disabled older relative.

  • Between one-third and nearly two-thirds of caregivers are also employed outside the home. This trend is likely to continue as women continue to enter the labor force.

  • Between 7.4 percent and 11.8 percent of the workforce is involved in providing care for an older person.

  • An estimated 9 percent of caregivers quit their jobs to provide care. For adult daughters, this number rises to 12 percent.

  • So if you're feeling smooshed, take comfort in the fact that you aren't alone.

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