Saturday, April 21, 2018
Health

Who are America's caregivers? Nearly a quarter are millennials

Caring for older relatives is usually a task associated with Baby Boomers, the 50- and 60-somethings who find their aging parents need assistance. But almost a quarter of the adults who take care of older people — on top of their regular jobs and other responsibilities — are between the ages of 18 and 34, according to research by the AARP Policy Institute and the National Alliance for Caregiving.

As millions of Americans are expected to live longer than they used to — often losing the ability to do so independently — their families and communities are grappling with how best way to take care of them. Kaiser Health News focused on the problem in a Dec. 2 webinar with advocates and policymakers.

About 40 million Americans considered themselves caregivers in 2013, according to an AARP report, said Susan Reinhard, senior vice president at the AARP and one of the webinar's panelists. Those people are typically women, and their median age is 49. The work they do caring for older relatives — usually parents and grandparents — was estimated that same year to be worth about $470 billion.

And it often takes a toll. Of the caregivers who participated in a support program run by the Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Community Living (ACL), about one-third said they spend more than 40 hours per week caring for an older relative. More than 1 in 4 labeled stress as the most significant challenge they faced; 11 percent said financial strain. Another 16 percent said their biggest concern was not having enough time to do everything.

Almost 90 percent of people who care for their older relatives perform medical tasks, like managing medications or taking care of wounds, said Edwin Walker, the ACL's deputy assistant secretary for aging. Often, those people don't have medical training.

"A significant number are doing more than just the basic assistance with family living," Walker said.

The issue has started getting more attention from policy makers. A number of bills pending in Congress could alleviate some of the pressures caregivers face, for instance offering Social Security credits for people who have to take care of their relatives, said Kathleen Kelly, executive director of the Family Caregiver Alliance, a nonprofit advocacy organization. These credits would help people who had to drop out of the workforce to take care of a family member preserve their contribution to Social Security retirement benefits.

The Institute of Medicine is also putting out a report next year on the state of family caregiving, and a number of states have passed or are considering legislation that would help hospitals better communicate with and train an older person's caregiver, especially after a hospitalization.

"In the past five years, a switch has been flipped, and there's a greater awareness of aging and caregiving," Kelly said.

That awareness may extend beyond Capitol Hill and various state houses.

Last month, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton proposed a tax credit to help caregivers, which would pay back up to $1,200 of the money they spend. Her plan would also give Social Security credits for people who stop working because of their caregiving responsibilities.

That's already a shift from the last presidential election, when caring for older relatives was hardly discussed.

It's unclear whether Clinton's plan will push more candidates to address the needs of caregivers. But "that doesn't mean we can't raise these issues," Kelly said.

Contact Shefali Luthra at [email protected] Follow @Shefalil

Comments
Do not eat any romaine lettuce, the CDC warns

Do not eat any romaine lettuce, the CDC warns

Public health officials are now telling consumers to avoid all types of romaine lettuce because of an E. coli outbreak linked to the vegetable that has spread to at least 16 states and sickened at least 60 people, including eight inmates at an Alask...
Published: 04/20/18
Florida hits a milestone: More than 100,000 people are registered to use medical marijuana here

Florida hits a milestone: More than 100,000 people are registered to use medical marijuana here

Florida has hit a milestone of sorts as it slowly moves toward wider availability of medical marijuana.The number of patients in the state who are registered to use the substance has surpassed 100,000 for the first time, according to Florida Departme...
Published: 04/20/18
Florida Hospital Carrollwood spending $17.5 million to expand emergency department

Florida Hospital Carrollwood spending $17.5 million to expand emergency department

Florida Hospital Carrollwood is expanding its emergency department. The hospital, 7171 North Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa, is spending $17.5 million to add 15 new private treatment rooms, new pediatric rooms and waiting areas, and new technology, acco...
Published: 04/18/18
Barbara Bush’s end-of-life decision stirs debate over ‘comfort care’

Barbara Bush’s end-of-life decision stirs debate over ‘comfort care’

As she nears death at age 92, former first lady Barbara Bush’s announcement that she is seeking "comfort care" is shining a light — and stirring debate — on what it means to stop trying to fight terminal illness.Bush, the wife of former President Geo...
Published: 04/17/18
Preparing for the worst, staffers at Johns Hopkins All Children’s learn through simulation

Preparing for the worst, staffers at Johns Hopkins All Children’s learn through simulation

When the patient got violent, Dr. Michelle Hidalgo didn’t have time to think. She had to react. The woman was moving strangely and seemed erratic. Hidalgo had to make a tough call — it was time to physically restrain her for everyone’s safety.Then th...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18

Lung cancer patients live longer with immune therapy

The odds of survival can greatly improve for people with the most common type of lung cancer if, along with the usual chemotherapy, they are also given a drug that activates the immune system, a major new study has shown.The findings should change me...
Published: 04/16/18
Thousands of pounds of prepackaged salad mixes may have been tainted with E. coli, officials say

Thousands of pounds of prepackaged salad mixes may have been tainted with E. coli, officials say

A Pennsylvania food manufacturer is recalling 8, 757 pounds of ready-to-eat salad products following an E. coli outbreak that has spread to several states and sickened dozens of people.Fresh food Manufacturing Co., based in Freedom, Pennsylvania, is ...
Published: 04/15/18
St. Anthony’s Cancer Center installs bell dedicated to survivors

St. Anthony’s Cancer Center installs bell dedicated to survivors

ST. PETERSBURGSister Mary McNally, vice president of mission at St. Anthony’s Hospital, stood in front of a room of cancer survivors to unveil a silver bell surrounded by butterfly stickers mounted to the wall of the Cancer Center lobby. "So often pe...
Published: 04/13/18
Hand dryers could leave your hands dirtier than you think

Hand dryers could leave your hands dirtier than you think

Washing your hands after you use the bathroom is a good idea. But using a public dryer could undo all that hard work, according to a new study.A study, published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, examined 36 men’s and women’s bat...
Published: 04/13/18
Meek and Mighty Triathlon draws the young (siblings who are 7, 9 and 11) and not so young

Meek and Mighty Triathlon draws the young (siblings who are 7, 9 and 11) and not so young

The annual St. Anthony’s Triathlon has for years attracted elite athletes from around the world, making the St. Petersburg race one of the premier triathlon events in the country. There’s a big incentive to run fast, swim hard and be the best on a bi...
Published: 04/13/18