Nearly 40 Million People Provide Unpaid Care to Elders

Elder Care Issues, Family / Caregiver Issues
More Americans taking on care-giving duties for elderly loved ones and friends.

More Americans taking on care-giving duties for elderly loved ones and friends.

Do you provide care to a parent or other aging loved one? Maybe you pick up prescriptions, cook meals, help with laundry, or regularly give a bath? If you do, you are one of nearly 40 million Americans who provide unpaid eldercare, with many spending as much as three hours per day providing care services, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  

Eldercare providers are defined as people who provide unpaid care to someone age 65 and older who need help due to conditions related to aging.

This care can be provided to household or non-household members, as well as to someone living in a retirement home or assisted care facility. Eldercare can involve a range of care activities, such as assisting with grooming, preparing meals, and providing transportation. Eldercare also can involve providing companionship or being available to assist when help is needed, and thus it can be associated with nearly any activity.

From 2011-2012, there were 39.6 million eldercare providers in the nation, representing 16 percent of the U.S. civilian non institutional population age 15 and older, according to data from the BLS and the American Time Use Survey (ATUS). This percentage represents one of every six people in the United States who’s at least 15 years old.

Nearly 25 percent of caregivers fall into the 45 to 64 age range, and about 16 percent of caregivers are 65 and older.

The Sandwich Generation

A number of caregivers were adult children providing care to their parents and children of their own, which the BLS referred to as the “sandwich generation,” as they are in between two generations that require care.

These adult caregivers represented 45 percent of total eldercare providers included in the ATUS analysis. Of the eldercare providers who were parents, 78 percent were employed, and 64 percent were employed full-time.

This group of working parent caregivers were also less likely to provide care on a daily basis than the overall population of eldercare providers, 13 percent compared with 20 percent.

Read the entire 2011 American Time Use Survey.