Thursday, February 27, 2020

21% of Adults Were Caregivers in 2015–2017

Public health officials are becoming increasingly concerned about the looming need for caregiving as the baby-boom generation ages into infirmity. To find out how much caregiving is currently being provided, the CDC included questions about it in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System surveys of 2015, 2016, and 2017.

According to the CDC's estimate, 17.7 million adults were informal, unpaid caregivers in 2015. They had provided regular care in the past 30 days to a friend or family member with a health problem or disability. Over the three-year time period, a substantial 21 percent of adults were caregivers.

Because the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System is a survey administered by the states, the CDC report on caregiving provides state-level detail. Caregivers are most prevalent in the southern states of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Tennessee, where more than 25 percent of adults are currently providing care. Women are the majority of caregivers in every state and account for 58 percent of caregivers nationally. By age, 45 percent of caregivers are under age 45, 34 percent are aged 45 to 64, and 21 percent are aged 65 or older. In Florida and Oregon, more than 25 percent of caregivers are aged 65 or older. Among caregivers nationally, 19 percent report being in fair or poor health.

"As the U.S. population continues to age, the need for informal caregivers is likely to increase," the CDC concludes. But "population dynamics might result in fewer available caregivers per person." There are several reasons for a potential caregiver shortage, says the CDC—smaller family sizes and fewer adult children, working women, and geographically dispersed families.

Source: CDC, Characteristics and Health Status of Informal Unpaid Caregivers—44 States, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, 2015–2017

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