Report: Number of Dementia Caregivers in U.S. Has Grown 37% Since 2010

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • Last night I had a “Wow!!” moment. I was watching the health segment on the local news when the newscaster reported that there has been a 37% increase in the number of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers in the United States since 2010. According to the Alzheimer’s Association’s new report, 2011 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, the total is now 15 million unpaid caregivers. In 2010, these individuals provided 17 billion hours of unpaid care valued at $202.6 billion. And 80 percent of care is provided at home by family caregivers

    The report notes that 60% of caregivers are women. “Most caregivers are aged 55 or older (56 percent), are married (66 percent), have obtained less than a college degree (67 percent) and are white (70 percent),” the report notes. “Over half are the primary breadwinners of the household (55 percent) and nearly half are employed full or part time (44 percent).” Half of all unpaid caregivers live with the person with dementia. And slightly more than a quarter of the caregivers also have children under 18 living with them.

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    However, there were differences in the caregiving profile in ethnic communities. For instance, African-American caregivers, who represented 15 percent of the overall caregiving group, on average tended to be older than those in other caregiver groups. Additionally, they were more likely to be single or never married. These caregivers were more likely than white caregivers and Asian-American caregivers to assist with three or more activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, feeding and toileting. And the average age of Hispanic caregivers, which represented 12 percent of the overall caregiving group, was 43 years old, which was younger than white and African-American caregivers. Hispanic caregivers were less likely to be married when compared to white caregivers, but were more likely than all other caregiving groups to have children or grandchildren under the age of 18 living in the household. Hispanic caregivers also were more likely to be the primary caregiver. More than the other ethnic groups of caregivers, Hispanic caregivers also indicated that they needed help balancing their work and family responsibilities and finding time for themselves. Fifty-nine percent of African-American caregivers and 56 percent of Hispanic caregivers reported an annual household income below $50,000.

    The report also described caregiving tasks done by the overall caregiving group. These included:

    • Instrumental activities of daily living, such as preparing meals, dispensing medications, and managing finances and legal affairs.
    • Personal activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, grooming, feeding, and using the toilet.
    • Managing safety issues and behavioral symptoms, such as assisting with mobility needs and supervising the person to avoid unsafe activities.
    • Finding and using supportive services, such as making arrangements for medical care and paid in-home, assisted living or nursing home care.
    • Hiring and supervising others who provide care.
    • Performing household chores.

    Needless to say, caregiving also puts tremendous stress not only on the person who is providing the care, but also on the family, friends, bosses, coworkers and eventually the community. It’s important for everyone to realize what is involved in caring for this terrible disease – and how rapidly the number of Americans from all walks of life in caregiving roles is increasing.

Published On: March 16, 2011