Elderly population is growing – caregivers?

The Aging Experience…

According to the National Institute of Aging, in 1900, the average American was dead by the age of 49. 50 was considered old age…and only 1 person in 10 survived to 65, which was thought of then as extreme old age!

The Growing Older Population

Presently in the 21st century life expectancy is extended due to:

  • Decreases in infant mortality rate
  • Control of infectious diseases
  • Improvements in environmental and social conditions
  • Behavioral changes, ie. Changes in life styles
  • Technological innovations in medicine
  • Improvements in nutrition & education
  • People are staying active longer and living longer!

We are now looking at 41+ million people who are 65 and over = 14.7% of the population. 85 year olds and above continue to be the fastest growing age group, with more reaching the age of 90 than ever before and there are more than 72 thousand people over 100! 1 in 8 Americans will be age 65 and over by the year 2030, every fifth American will be at least 65. The elderly population is expected to increase to 65 million by the year 2030!

THE AGING EXPERIENCE AND THE CAREGIVER ENVIRONMENT

  • More than 65 million people, 29% of the US population provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member.
  • The value of services family caregivers provides for “free” when caring for older adults, is estimated to be $375 billion a year.
  • 66% of family caregivers are women, 40’s-50’s, married and employed.
  • More than 37% have children or grandchildren under 18 years old living with them.

IMPACT ON FAMILY CAREGIVER’S HEALTH

  • 23% of family caregivers caring for loved ones for 5 years or more, report health is fair to poor.
  • Stress of family caregiving has shown to impact a person’s immune system for 3 years AFTER caregiving ends, increasing chances of developing a chronic disease themselves.
  • 40%-70% of family caregivers have clinically significant symptoms of depression.
  • More than 1 in 10 (11%) of family caregivers report caregiving has caused physical health to deteriorate.
  • Caregivers report that NOT going to the doctor themselves.
  • 3% of caregiver’s report having poor eating habits and 58% indicate worse exercise habits than before caregiving responsibilities – no time.

Lots of data and information on how our elderly population’s make up has changed over the years. The need for caregivers has grown exponentially as well. The care for the caregivers is just as vital as caring for the elderly. In next month’s “Caregiver Corner”, suggestions and resources will be provided on how to take care of YOU – the caregiver.

Take moment to pat yourself on the shoulder. YOU are doing an amazing job!       

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

  • Blame the illness, not your loved one and not YOU.
  • Learn all you can about the diagnosis/illness.
  • Be prepared for behavior changes that may occur.
  • Understand that there will be “new norms” that occur sooner than expected.
  • Be flexible and “go with the flow”.
  • Seek out resources.
  • Accept help from others no matter what.
  • Take breaks when you can – even if it is just for one minute!
  • Find someone who is also a caregiver and compare your successes/challenges.
  • TAKE CARE OF YOUR HEALTH!

NATIONAL CAREGIVERS ORGANIZATIONS

  • The National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC)
  • Caregiver Action Network (CAN)
  • National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP)
  • AARP
  • Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA)
  • The Family Caregiver Program
  • Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (RCI – Atlanta)