“There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.” Rosayln Carter August 5, 2012
November is National Family Caregivers Month and The National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and AARP Caregiving just released their U.S. 2020 report. It should come as no surprise that the number of caregivers in the U.S. has grown by 9.5 million in the last five years. Since the report was updated as of 2019, the number of caregivers today is probably much higher due to the pandemic.
Who are the 53 million unpaid family caregivers across the United States? They are broken into four distinct caregiver groups, each with their own unique challenges. Across the board they feel the impact financially, at work or school and on their physical health. Understanding their challenges will help us to support family caregivers all year long, not just during National Family Caregivers month.
The typical baby boomer is caring for a spouse, aging parents or developmentally disabled children. Those who are still working when they become a caregiver often leave work for full-time caregiving. They find themselves unable to plan for their own retirement or enjoy those years due to caregiving responsibilities. The effect on their finances can be devastating when they leave work in the highest earning years. Caregiving takes a toll on all caregivers but can be extreme for those in their 60’s and 70’s facing their own physical health issues.
Social media support systems for Baby Boomers can be found on Facebook in private groups. Many are already using it to keep up with family. Search on caregiving to see what is available. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
The typical Gen X is married or living with someone and has children at home under the age of 18. They are caring for a parent or parent-in-law who is fairly young – 67 – but has a long-term physical condition.
More than any other generation, Gen X caregivers are still in the work force. Caregiving impacts their career because they may go in late, leave early or take time off to provide care. The impact on their finances is greater than Baby Boomers because they typically stop saving, use up short-term savings and take on debt. Their stress is high due to juggling parents , children and conflicts with work.
Relief may be found in special employee benefit programs designed for caregivers through the Family Leave Protection Act (FMLA). These caregivers are more comfortable with social media and can be found using Facebook and Instagram for ideas and support. Often running two households, supporting the caregiver or their loved one can be done remotely by paying for:
Online support can be found in private Facebook groups like:
The typical Gen Y is single (never married) and is the most diverse generation of caregivers. Typically, they are caring for a parent or grandparent (often who raised them), with a long-term physical condition.
Millennial caregivers can find it difficult to finish school or effectively launch their careers and are coping with student loans and high housing costs. About 75% of the Gen Y caregivers hold down a full-time job while caregiving, but are often met with skepticism from their employers due to a lack of understanding about their caregiving role.
Because of student loans and failure to launch, they tend to have lower household incomes than older generations. In addition, they have the highest level of financial strain because they tend to take on more debt, pay bills late or not pay them at all and may be unable to afford basic expenses like food, all as a result of caregiving. They are the least likely to have health insurance.
Having grown up during the digital age, this group is comfortable with using online resources and support groups. There are several unique social media leaders and online groups for millennials:
In 2005 the National Alliance for Caregiving estimated there were at least 1.3 million children serving as family caregivers. They take care of a parent or sibling, even while needing care themselves. This hidden population tries to continue with studies while managing household chores, medication schedules and dressing and feeding their family member. A study funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation found that 22% of high school dropouts leave school to care for a family member.
Youth caregivers are helped when teachers and guidance counselors know of the situation, but many families are reluctant to reveal the challenges at home.
American Association of Caregiving Youth
Hope Loves Company is a non-profit that supports the children and grandchildren of adults living with ALS.
Springpoint at Home Care Managers are uniquely qualified to help every generation of caregivers find the resources they need. To speak with someone about your situation, call 844-734-1777.
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