Elder Caregiver programs

WHAT ARE ELDER CAREGIVER PROGRAMS?

The National Family Caregiver Support Program provides programs and services for caregivers of older adults and some limited services to grandparents raising grandchildren.

CAREGIVER: Someone whose life is in some way restricted by the need to be responsible for the care of someone who is mentally ill, mentally handicapped, physically disabled or whose health is impaired by sickness or old age.

WHO ARE THE ELDER CAREGIVERS?

Most older persons with long-term care needs – 65% - rely exclusively on family and friends to provide assistance.  Another 30% will supplement family care with assistance from paid providers.  Care provided by family and friends can determine whether older persons can remain at home.  In fact, 50% of the elderly who have a long-term care need but no family available to care for them are in nursing homes, while only 7% who have a family caregiver are in institutional settings.

Within our complex system of long-term care, women’s elder caregiving is essential in providing a backbone of support.  In fact, the value of informal care that women provide ranges from $148 billion to $188 billion annually.  Women provide the majority of informal care to spouses, parents, parents-in-law, friends and neighbors, and they play many roles while caregiving – hands-on health care provider, care manager, friend, companion, surrogate decision-maker and advocate.

Many studies have looked at the role of women and family caregiving.  Although not all have addressed gender issues and elder caregiving specifically, the results are still generalized to women because they are the majority of informal care providers in this country.  Consider:

  • Estimates of the percentage of family or informal caregivers who are women range from 59% to 75%.
  • The average caregiver is age 46, female, married and working outside the home earning an annual income of $35,000.
  • Although men also provide assistance, female caregivers may spend as much as 50% more time providing care than male caregivers.

 Source:  AARP, Family Caregiving Alliance

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