The number of Americans who provide elder care to a friend, family member, or loved one continues to grow, according to new figures released by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. As a part of its American Time Use Survey, an ongoing survey conducted throughout the year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics investigates how Americans spend their day. The newly released figures show that between 2011 and 2012, 39.6 million Americans provided some kind of unpaid eldercare services.
The kinds of services provided differ substantially from case to case, but the survey includes a wide range of activities that count as unpaid eldercare.
For example, providing an elderly person with transportation assistance is considered unpaid eldercare assistance, as is providing more extensive care such as providing or preparing meals. The survey also considers companionship and making oneself available to assist elderly person a form of unpaid eldercare.
Elder care Providers
The majority of people who provided some type of eldercare assistance in 2011 and 2012 were women, making up 56% of those providing care. Of those providers, 45% were between the ages of 45 and 64.
Half of all providers assisted an elderly person for two years or less. Only 15% of respondents said that they provided some type of care to a senior for 10 years or more.
The vast majority of people, 70%, said that they provided care to a single person, while 85% said the care they provided was for someone with whom they didn’t live. 22% of people said they cared for two seniors, while 7% said they provided assistance to three or more elderly people.
Types of Care
In many situations, the people providing elder care were parents who are also responsible for caring for children. About 9 million unpaid eldercare providers were parents who lived with a child under the age of 18, and 32% of those parents had a child under the age of six.
When parents cared for children in their home, they often also cared for an elderly parent at the same time. Parents of young children reported that the elder care services they provided were for an elderly parent living in the same home. Also, 78% of those who reported providing care to their parents were also employed, with 62% managing full-time jobs as well.
As might be expected, parents of young children who provided some kind of elder care were less likely to do so on a daily basis. Overall, 20% of people providing unpaid eldercare services did so every day. For parents with young children, only 13% reported that they provided daily assistance to a senior or elderly person.