More Americans are Caregivers Than Ever Before - Study

Another research study is showing the significant impact caregiving is having on American families. Without long-term care insurance, family members become caregivers. A growing number of loved ones find themselves in this role.

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More Americans are Caregivers Than Ever Before - Study
4 Min Read June 25th, 2020

An estimated 53.0 million adults in the United States are providing unpaid caregiving services to family members according to a new study published by The National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and AARP. One in five are now caregivers, and this number has increased from the 43.5 million caregivers in the 2015 study.

The largest demographic group of those who are receiving care are adults age 50 and above. The research shows 41.8 million people are caring for that group, growing from the previous study.  The demographic characteristics of these caregivers impacts all generations, racial/ethnic groups, income, and educational levels, family types, gender identities, and sexual orientations. In other words, the need to be a caregiver affects all America.

Twenty-four percent of these caregivers care for two or more recipients (up from 18 percent in 2015). American families seem to be unprepared for the financial costs and burdens of aging and health issues. Families are forced to step into the role of a caregiver providing unpaid services to families and other loved ones.

An Aging America Means More People Needing Extended Care Services

These numbers are increasing as more Americans need help with activities of daily living and supervision due to cognitive declines from various forms of dementia. The amount of people receiving paid care has increased as well.

Those who own Long-Term Care Insurance are receiving larger benefits from those policies. The American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance reported that the major insurance companies paid over $11 billion in benefits to American families from these policies in 2019 alone. These numbers are increasing as well.

Often paid costs come from savings and income when families are no longer able to continue to be caregivers, and no Long-Term Care Insurance exists. Yet, family caregivers are still getting the brunt of the burden with 3 in 10 reporting their recipient has any paid help from any source.

The study indicated that there are several reasons for the ever-increasing need for caregiving and long-term care services. This includes demographics as the ever-increasingly aging baby boomer population requiring more care due to illness, accident, or the impact of aging.

Adult Women Are Primary Caregivers

Women still provide the majority of caregiving services, with 6 in 10 caregivers being women. The average age of a caregiver is 49.4 years.

Average Caregiver by Age Bar Graph

Caregivers by Gender Pie Graph

The majority of those being cared for are parents or in-laws. Spouses and partners also provide care for their loved ones. Their needs vary:

  • long-term physical conditions – 63%
  • emotional or mental health issues – 27%
  • cognitive problems including Alzheimer’s - 32%

The study shows more caregivers are reporting their care recipient has 1.7 conditions. The unpaid caregiver is now providing more care with an ever-increasingly complex medical or supports being provided.

Caregiving Takes Time

Today’s caregivers are contributing about 24 hours of care each week, the study says. As in 2015, nearly all of today’s caregivers help with Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs; 99 percent), 6 in 10 help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs; 60 percent), and nearly 6 in 10 help with medical/nursing tasks (58 percent). 

These numbers suggest that even a small Long-Term Care Insurance policy would provide adequate resources to reduce the stress and burdens on these family caregivers. Often people fail to purchase a policy because the agent or advisor recommended large benefits that had high price tags. Generally, a Long-Term Care Insurance specialist will recommend a policy design that fits the specific family financial situation. Thus, making a future catastrophic situation and make it manageable.

Generation X (those born from 1965 to 1980) and Late-Boomers still make a majority of the caregivers, yet we see more Millennials being placed into the role of caregiver. No matter who provides the care, the caregiver faces a tremendous amount of physical and emotional stress. This stress impacts their own health, careers, and families. 

LTC Insurance Offers Resources for Quality Care Even at Home

Planning ahead for the future costs and burdens that come with aging will ease these burdens and give families more time to be family. For more and more American families, this means purchasing Long-Term Care Insurance. These affordable policies offer guaranteed tax-free benefits. These resources can pay for your choice of quality care, at home or in a facility. 

However, you must have a policy in place before your health changes. Many experts suggest putting a plan in place in your 40s or 50s.

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About the Author

Linda Kople is a freelance writer with a personal family history in long-term care. She specializes in aging-related topics such as caregiving, health, and retirement planning. Her experiences and interests drive her to explore and write about the various aspects of aging and health issues.

LTC News Contributor Linda Kople

Linda Kople

Contributor since October 31st, 2017

Editor's Note

One of the most common reasons given by consumers on why they did not purchase Long-Term Care Insurance is cost. Yet, premiums are very affordable. The problem is policy design, company selection, and the age when you obtain coverage.

Premiums vary over 100% between insurance companies. A true Long-Term Care Insurance specialist will shop the top companies can find the one that best matches your age, health, family history, and other factors, so you have the best coverage at the best value.

Don’t fall into the trap thinking health insurance or Medicare will pay for long-term care. Plus, don’t think your family is the best option to provide your future care. They have their own families and careers. You want your loved ones to have the time to be family – not caregivers.

Compare Long-Term Care Insurance Options

You can see comparisons between the major companies on LTC NEWS by clicking here. Do not forget features like inflation protection add to cost – but having the wrong inflation option can cost you money down the road.

Partnership Long-Term Care Insurance policies require inflation benefits to obtain the dollar-for-dollar asset protection the plans offer. 

Generally, financial advisors and general insurance agents lack knowledge is key areas with long-term care planning. A specialist, with substantial experience, will guide you through the maze of options and policy designs.

Find a trusted and experienced Long-Term Care Insurance specialist by clicking here.

There are several types of policies that provide benefits for extended care. These include the traditional insurance plans, hybrid policies with death benefits, and short-term or limited duration plans. Be sure the specialist understands all these types of policies. 

In addition, make sure any agent or advisor is asking detailed health questions, family history questions, and financial questions. Otherwise, the quotes they provide will not be accurate or reflect your specific needs.

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