U.S. Survey Provides Snapshop of Time Spent Caring for Elders in 2011

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released the results of the 2011 American Time Use Survey (ATUS), which offers nationally representative time estimates of Americans’ time. This includes how we spend our time, where we spend it, and with whom. Furthermore, it’s the only federal survey that provides data on activities ranging from childcare to volunteering to caregiving for elders.  The data includes information collected from more than 124,000 interviews that were conducted between 2003 and 2011. However, 2011 marks the first time that information about eldercare has been collected in this survey.

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    The survey found that 16 percent of Americans who were age 15 and over were involved in eldercare in 2011. The study defined an eldercare provider as someone who provided this type of assistance more than one time during the three to four months prior to the interview day.

    Here are the other findings:

    • Almost forty million people serve as eldercare providers in the civilian non-institutional population. The ATUS defines this term as “those who provided unpaid care to someone over the age of 65 who needed help because of a condition related to aging.” The majority of eldercare providers were women (56 percent) in 2011.
    • Individuals between the ages of 45-54 (23 percent of the population) and 55-64 (22 percent of the population) were most likely to be providing eldercare. Individuals who were age 65 and older were the third most likely group to be providing eldercare at 16 percent of the population.
    • Sixty-nine percent of eldercare providers were caring for one elder in 2011.
    • Forty-two percent of eldercare providers reported caring for a parent.
    • Twenty-three percent of eldercare providers were also parents and had one or more children under the age of 18 living in their household.
    • Twenty-four percent of eldercare providers assisted at least one elder per day. This care could include care activities such as assisting with grooming, preparing meals, providing transportation, providing companionship or being able to assist when help was needed.
    • On days that they provided care, these caregivers spent on average 3.1 hours assisting the elder. Slightly more than half of this time was associated with leisure activities (one hour) and household activities (42 minutes).

    Now admittedly, these statistics are not only for caring for people with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. The data includes people like me who now care for an elderly parent who has other physical issues, but who is sharp as a tack mentally. That’s why it’s good to see the latest statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association:

    • In 2012, 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. Of those, 5.2 million are age 65 and over. By 2050, it is projected that up to 16 million Americans will have this disease.
    • An estimated 800,000 who have Alzheimer’s disease live alone. Of those, up to half do not have an identifiable caregiver.
    • People with Alzheimer’s and other dementias who do live alone face higher risks of inadequate self-care, malnutrition, untreated medical conditions, falls, wandering and accidental death compared to those who do not live alone.
    • In 2011, 15.2 million family members and friends offered 17.4 billion hours of unpaid care to individuals who have Alzheimer’s and other dementia. This care is valued at $210.5 billion.
    • More than 60 percent of these caregivers rate their emotional stress as very high or high. One-third said they have symptoms of depression.
    • Caregiving took a toll on these Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers, causing them to have additional health care costs of $8.7 billion in 2011.

    The numbers from the ATUS and the Alzheimer’s Association are sobering. That’s why it’s imperative that we all – policymakers, researchers, Alzheimer’s organizations, caregivers, people with Alzheimer’s and those at risk – continue to develop ways to join together in order to fight this terrible disease.

  • Primary Sources for This Sharepost:

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    Alzheimer’s Association. (2012). 2012 Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures.

    Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2012). American Time Use Survey – 2011 results.

Published On: June 28, 2012