Bureau of Labor Statistics Offers New Numbers on Elder Care

As the U.S. population ages, increasing numbers of people are taking care of elderly relatives. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released a new study that reports that, in the past three months, 39.8 million Americans have provided unpaid care to someone over 65 because of a condition related to aging.

A story on the recent report was published in the New York Times.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 78 million American children were born between 1945 and 1964 in the years following World War II. Now those children are heading into their golden years, starting retirement and facing some of the illnesses usually associated with old age. Many of their caregivers will be their sons and daughters.

The study found that most of the care is being provided by middle-aged relatives. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 22 and 23 percent of people ages 45 to 64 identified themselves as elder care providers. Another 16 percent of those over age 65 said they provided care to the elderly. Almost a third of them are taking care of two older people or more. Also, 23 percent reported having a minor child in their households at the same time. the study also found that, in 85 percent of the cases, caregivers and their elders maintained separate households. A majority of those providing care are women — 56 percent.

The study also showed that about 20 percent of caregivers provide care daily, about 24 percent several times a week, and 20 percent once a week. On those days they’re on the job, they devote more than three hours, on average, to their elders.

The study used a broad definition of “caregiver.” If you provided unpaid care of any kind (including simple companionship or “being available to assist when help is needed”) more than once in the past three months, you qualify as a caregiver. So a 17-year-old granddaughter who paid two 20-minute visits to her grandmother since mid-April is, to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an elder care provider.

Elder care has been a hidden and unmeasured activity for a long time, but as the baby boomers age, there is increasing interest in this line of work — voluntary or paid.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling elder care issues, nursing home and abuse cases for more than 36 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Buffalo Grove, Park Forest, Chicago (Marquette Park), Chicago (Chinatown), Melrose Park, Elmwood Park, River Forest and Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois.

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