Caregiver

Caregiver Support

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). For the purposes of the present fact sheet, displayed statistics generally refer to caregivers of adults.

  • Approximately 43.5 million caregivers have provided unpaid care to an adult or child in the last 12 months. [National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. (2015). Caregiving in the U.S.]
  • About 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the last 12 months. [National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. (2015). Caregiving in the U.S.]
  • The majority of caregivers (82%) care for one other adult, while 15% care for 2 adults, and 3% for 3 or more adults. [National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. (2015). Caregiving in the U.S.]
  • Approximately 39.8 million caregivers provide care to adults (aged 18+) with a disability or illness or 16.6% of Americans. [Coughlin, J. (2010). Estimating the Impact of Caregiving and Employment on Well-Being: Outcomes & Insights in Health Management.]
  • About 15.7 million adult family caregivers care for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia. [Alzheimer’s Association. (2015). 2015 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures.]
Cancer caregivers have diverse backgrounds and characteristics. Cancer caregivers tend to be women (58%), and most have less than a college degree (60%). They are 53 years old on average (4 years older than non-cancer caregivers). Most cancer caregivers provide care to a relative (88%); six out of ten cancer caregivers provide care to someone age 65 or older. Providing care to a loved one with cancer is an episodic and intense experience. Cancer caregivers tend to provide care on a relatively short-term basis compared with non-cancer caregivers; approximately two years on average – possibly due to the care recipient passing away or their cancer going into remission and no longer needing care. Despite the shorter duration of cancer caregiving, the burden of caring for someone with cancer is high: 62% of cancer caregivers are in a high burden situation. 9 Cancer caregivers spend an average of 32.9 hours a week caring for their loved one, with 32% providing 41 or more hours of care weekly, the equivalent of a full-time job. Cancer caregivers more often help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs, such as bathing, eating, toileting), Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs, such as shopping, driving, managing finances), and medical/nursing tasks than non-cancer caregivers.

Sources of information: www.caregiver.org and www.caregiver.org