Bringing Caregivers into the Spotlight
Caregiving is a major part of life in America, but not one that’s portrayed frequently on TV sitcoms or movies—it’s the unpaid labor of love that happens behind the scenes in many families to some degree or another. In fact, unpaid family members and friends provide 83 percent of all long-term care in the US and two thirds of older adults rely exclusively on free care. The estimated economic value of this unpaid care is $470 billion a year.
According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, today 21.3 percent of Americans are caregivers, providing care to an adult or special needs child at some time in the past 12 months. This is an increase from about 18 percent in 2015.
In the United States women carry most of the caregiving load. While men do provide care, women provide more hours and often do the difficult tasks of assisting with toileting and bathing while men tend to handle finances more often. Nearly two-thirds of family caregivers are employed full or part-time.
Of current family caregivers:
30% have provided care for at least 20 hours per week
Over half assist with personal care
One in five adults are caregivers
One in six Americans who are non-caregivers expect to become family caregivers within 2 years
58% are women and 20% are 65 years old or older
37% are caring for a parent or parent-in-law
Nearly 10% are providing care to someone with dementia
Even though I have been shaping health policy throughout my career—particularly Medicare and Medicaid policy—I only began working on my book, The Family Caregiver, when the policy began to affect me personally.
My mother had a stroke, then suffered a fall. She eventually developed dementia, and through each stage of her decline, I uncovered new perspectives and elements to caregiving.
As my mother and I navigated the healthcare system together for six years, I found that knowing the system and the laws that shaped it provided an advantage, but it still left me in the dark in some important ways.
In The Family Caregiver, readers will find:
Personal accounts and examples of what other families have experienced and how they’ve dealt with the twists and turns of caring for their elderly parents.
Helpful checklists and guides to help you evaluate options.
Definitions and context for medical and legal terms you need to know to give your parent the best care.
Important recommendations for how to take care of yourself, physically and emotionally, so you can continue to be a strong caregiver.
I designed the book to be chock-full of helpful information. Think of it as a curated collection of the things no one tells you—a resource you can dip into when you need guidance, ideas, facts, and the experiences of someone who’s been down the road herself.
If you’re a family caregiver, I tip my hat to you. I hope that my book can make a tough situation slightly easier to navigate.