What Do Caregivers Look Like? Part 3 of Caregivers and Who They Are

Caregiving can happen to anyone, at any time.

Some people become caregivers overnight, in response to a health crisis of a loved one.  For others, it can be a gradual process, beginning with basic tasks such as helping with grocery shopping, and developing into more complicated tasks as the care recipient’s health or abilities decline.  Caregivers can live with care recipients, or provide assistance from hundreds of miles away.  Some caregivers still work, while others have left the labor force to provide care.  Some are spouses, nieces and nephews, or daughters, while others are neighbors down the street.  How many caregivers do you know in your own family or community?

Most caregivers are women, but the gap between male and female caregivers is closing.  In 2001, 75% of caregivers were women, but in 2012, this percentage dropped to 66%, showing that more men are taking on the role of caregiver.  We will return to a discussion of men as caregivers later in the presentation.

The average age of caregivers is 48 years.  Younger caregivers tend to care for younger care recipients, while older caregivers often provide more complicated, advanced assistance to older care recipients.  Most caregivers are married, but over a third of them are single, divorced, or widowed.  The most common people that caregivers care for are mothers, grandmothers, or fathers.  Nearly 60% of caregivers are employed, either full- or part-time.  Over half of these caregivers have had to make adjustments to their work in order to continue providing care to their loved one.  If a caregiver chooses to give up work completely to provide care, they can lose up to $600,000 over their lifetime in lost wages, benefits, and retirement funds.
[1] National Alliance for Caregiving & AARP, 2012.  Caregiving in the U.S.