Caregiving was often thought of as a job for a paid professional. In the past, people thought mostly of formal caregivers, like home health aide’s or nurses when they thought of the people who cared for their loved ones. As time changes, there is another side of caregiving that continues to emerge and impacts more and more families each year. Millions of Americans have become informal caregivers, interwoven in the daily routines of those they love.
The National Center on Caregiving gives these definitions on the distinction between formal and informal caregivers:
“A caregiver—sometimes called an informal caregiver—is an unpaid individual (for example, a spouse, partner, family member, friend, or neighbor) involved in assisting others with activities of daily living and/or medical tasks. Formal caregivers are paid care providers providing care in one's home or in a care setting (day care, residential facility, long-term care facility).”
Caregiving has evolved from a job for paid professionals into a community effort that includes many relatives and friends. A recent Forbes article titled, How The Business Of Caregiving Is Evolving discusses three major ways caregiving has changed and continues to impact families.
1. Most caregivers struggle to coordinate care for aging, chronically ill, or disabled loved ones.
According to an AARP and National Alliance for Caregivers (NAC) study titled Caregiving in the U.S., “Caregivers are as diverse as the United States as a whole: they come from every age, gender, socioeconomic, and racial/ethnic group. They share positive aspects of caregiving. They also share many struggles, but can face different challenges depending on their circumstances. Caregivers may need differing support depending on their loved one’s condition and needs, and their own problems, strengths, and resources.”
2. The number of caregivers in America continues to increase.
Forbes contributor Marlena Hartz says, “[e]very year, some 40 million American adults help loved ones remain in their homes for as long as possible—by assisting with basic tasks, like eating, bathing and shopping, in addition to nursing and medical tasks,”
in her article How The Business Of Caregiving Is Evolving
.3. “The toll of caregiving doesn’t end at home.”
Hartz also says, “Gallup found that the cost of lost productivity due to absenteeism among caregivers with full-time jobs is more than $25 billion annually. While women still disproportionately bear the burden of caregiving, the gap is closing, with 20% of all female and 16% of all male workers in the U.S. now acting as caregivers.”
Solutions for Caregivers
Many companies are emerging to ease the strain caregiving can place on families. Hartz writes, “[d]emographic trends and policy shifts have fueled” the growth of companies like Wellthy and Caring Transitions. Wellthy offers help to people coordinating care for aging, chronically ill, or disabled loved ones. Caring Transitions can help “families settle their parents into assisted living facilities or deal with their possessions after they pass away,” with over 200 locations across the U.S.
To read the full feature in Forbes, click here.