Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

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

Times file photo. [iStockphoto.com]

Times file photo. [iStockphoto.com]

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 ShefaliL@kff.org. Follow @Shefalil

Who are America's caregivers? Nearly a quarter are millennials 12/03/15 [Last modified: Thursday, December 3, 2015 12:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trump sprinkles political attacks into Scout Jamboree speech

    GLEN JEAN, W.Va. — Ahead of President Donald Trump's appearance Monday at the National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, the troops were offered some advice on the gathering's official blog: Fully hydrate. Be "courteous" and "kind." And avoid the kind of divisive chants heard during the 2016 campaign such as "build …

    President Donald Trump addresses the Boy Scouts of America's 2017 National Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, W.Va., July 24, 2017. [New York Times]
  2. Trump, seething about attorney general, speculates about firing Sessions, sources say

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has spoken with advisers about firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as he continues to rage against Sessions' decision to recuse himself from all matters related to the Russia investigation.

  3. John McCain to return to Senate for health care vote

    WASHINGTON — The Senate plans to vote Tuesday to try to advance a sweeping rewrite of the nation's health-care laws with the last-minute arrival of Sen. John McCain — but tough talk from President Donald Trump won no new public support from skeptical GOP senators for the flagging effort that all but …

  4. Last orca calf born in captivity at a SeaWorld park dies

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — The last killer whale born in captivity under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program died Monday at the company's San Antonio, Texas, park, SeaWorld said.

    Thet orca Takara helps guide her newborn, Kyara, to the water's surface at SeaWorld San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas, in April. Kyara was the final killer whale born under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program. The Orlando-based company says 3-month-old Kyara died Monday. [Chris Gotshall/SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via AP]
  5. Blake Snell steps up, but Rays lose to Orioles anyway (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell stepped up when he had to Monday and delivered an impressive career-high seven-plus innings for the Rays. That it wasn't enough in what ended up a 5-0 loss to the Orioles that was their season-high fifth straight is symptomatic of the mess they are in right now.

    Tim Beckham stands hands on hips after being doubled off first.