Report: Nearly 40 million U.S. citizens provide unpaid eldercare

eldercare

One-fourth spend average of 3.2 hours a day providing care

WASHINGTON (Sept. 18, 2013) — Sixteen percent of the U.S. civilian non-institutional population age 15 and over (39.6 million people) provide unpaid eldercare, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Nearly one-fourth of eldercare providers engage in unpaid eldercare on a given day, spending an average of 3.2 hours providing this care. These estimates are averages for the two-year period of 2011-12; combining the two years of data facilitates a more in-depth analysis of eldercare.

Eldercare providers are defined as individuals who provide unpaid care to someone age 65 or older who needs help because of a condition related to aging. This care can be provided to household or non-household members, as well as persons living in retirement homes or assisted care facilities. 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.

Information about eldercare providers and the time they spend providing care were collected as part of the American Time Use Survey (ATUS). The ATUS is a continuous household survey that provides estimates on how people spend their time. For a description of ATUS data, concepts, and methodology, see the Technical Note.

Eldercare providers in 2011-12

♦ Of the 39.6 million eldercare providers in the civilian non-institutional population age 15 and over, the majority (56 percent) were women.

♦ Individuals ages 45 to 54 and 55 to 64 were the most likely to provide eldercare (23 percent and 22 percent, respectively), followed by those age 65 and over (16 percent).

♦ Half of eldercare providers had provided care for 2 years or less, while 15 percent had provided care for 10 years or more.

♦ The majority (70 percent) of eldercare providers cared for only one person. Twenty-two percent of eldercare providers cared for two persons, and 7 percent cared for three or more persons.

♦ Eighty-five percent of eldercare providers cared only for persons with whom they did not live.

♦ Twenty-two percent of all eldercare providers were parents with children under age 18 living with them.

♦ Over half of eldercare providers ages 15 to 34 cared for a grandparent, while the majority of providers ages 35 to 64 cared for a parent. Providers ages 65 and over were more likely than those in other age groups to care for a friend or neighbor.

Time spent providing eldercare in 2011-12

♦ On a given day, nearly one-fourth (23 percent) of eldercare providers engaged in eldercare. Eldercare providers who were ages 65 and older and those who were not employed were the most likely to provide care on a given day.

♦ On days they provided eldercare, persons spent an average of 3.2 hours in caregiving activities. Providers ages 65 and over spent the most time providing eldercare (4.1 hours), and providers ages 15 to 24 spent the least amount of time (1.3 hours).

♦ Eldercare providers were slightly more likely to provide care on weekend days than on weekdays (26 percent compared with 22 percent). They spent the same amount of time in caregiving on weekdays and weekend days when they provided care (3.2 hours).

♦ On days they provided eldercare, women spent more time providing this care than did men (3.5 hours compared with 2.9 hours).

Eldercare activities in 2011-12

♦ On days they provided care, 38 percent of eldercare providers engaged in caregiving associated with household activities, spending on average 40 minutes per day in these activities. This includes 28 percent of providers who engaged in eldercare associated with food preparation and cleanup and 12 percent who provided eldercare associated with housework.

♦ Thirty-six percent of eldercare providers engaged in caregiving associated with leisure and sports on days they provided care, spending 1.1 hours per day in these activities. This includes 23 percent of eldercare providers who engaged in eldercare associated with socializing and communicating and 12 percent who provided care associated with watching TV.

♦ Women were more likely than men to provide eldercare associated with household activities on days they provided care (41 percent compared with 34 percent), whereas women and men were about equally likely to provide eldercare associated with leisure and sports (36 percent and 35 percent).

♦ On days they provided care, 31 percent of persons caring for someone age 85 or older provided eldercare associated with socializing and communicating, compared with 15 percent of providers for someone age 65 to 74. (Data refer to providers caring for one person only.)

Eldercare providers who were parents of household children under age 18 in 2011-12

♦ There were 8.9 million eldercare providers whose children under age 18 lived with them. Of these parents, about one-third (32 percent) had a child under age 6, and the remainder (68 percent) were parents whose youngest child was between the ages of 6 and 17.

♦ Forty-five percent of eldercare providers who were parents of household children provided care for their own parent. These persons sometimes are described as members of the “sandwich generation,” because they are in between two generations that require care.

♦ Most (78 percent) eldercare providers who were parents were employed, and 62 percent were employed full time. Eighty-three percent of fathers were employed full time, compared with 48 percent of mothers.

♦ Seventeen percent of eldercare providers who were parents had no spouse or unmarried partner present in the household.

♦ Eldercare providers who were parents were less likely to provide daily care than the overall population of eldercare providers (13 percent compared with 20 percent).

 

 

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