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Nearly 17% of the U.S. adult population provides unpaid care to an adult over the age of 50. Over 75% of these caregivers are women, and they spend, on average, almost an equivalent number of hours a week providing care as people traditionally spend at a full-time job. Many of these caregivers are also employed or raising children of their own. Take an in-depth look at caregiver demographics by race, age, education status, and more.
According to our research team’s analysis of the latest available data:
Read further for breakdowns on demographics, burnout rates, and more.
Family caregivers work long hours and are often unpaid for their time spent supporting loved ones. Many of these caregivers also have full-time jobs and other responsibilities, like raising children, volunteering, and doing housework and chores.
The number of unpaid family caregivers in the U.S. increased by 9.5 million between 2015 and 2020, from 43.5 million to over 53 million. These numbers reflect a consistent increase in caregivers over time.
It’s important to note that not all unpaid caregivers assist seniors. The data above applies to caregivers of all adults, including younger adults with physical or mental disabilities.
However, a majority of the caregivers represented do support seniors. Over 41.8 million of the represented group care for people over the age of 50.
The average length of time a caregiver provides unpaid care to a loved one is 4.5 years.
Seniors with acute conditions may only require temporary care. For example, someone may have fallen or gotten surgery. They may need care for several months until they’ve healed enough to support themselves independently.
On the other end of the spectrum are seniors with persistent disabilities, like loss of vision, diabetes, or a stroke that leaves them unable to care for themselves long-term. 11% of care recipients require assistance for over 10 years.
The number of people providing care for five years or longer has increased from 24% in 2015 to 28% in 2020. As life-extending technologies improve, this number will likely grow.
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Most unpaid caregivers are related to their care recipients by either blood or marriage. They often live near their loved ones, and they spend 20+ hours a week on active caregiving.
89% of unpaid caregivers are related to their care recipients by either blood or marriage. 11% care for a friend, neighbor, or another non-relative.
Between 2010 and 2020, the percentage of people caring for a spouse or partner remained steady. The number of people providing unpaid care to a non-relative dropped from 14% to 11%.
Family caregivers who live with their senior relative receiving care spend an average of 37.4 hours a week on direct caregiving duties. People who don’t live with their relatives spend an average of 23.7 hours a week on caregiving duties.
Note that these hours, which are almost equivalent to the number of hours worked in a standard full- or part-time job, don’t include passive time spent with care recipients. They encompass:
Caregivers in the U.S. aren’t a homogenous group. They differ in age, race, profession, and more.
The median age of family caregivers is 50.1. This is because many people care for spouses, partners, or aging parents.
The marital status of family caregivers of adults over 50 has changed significantly over the past 10 years. As of 2020, far more caregivers had never been married than in 2010. Rounded to the nearest numbers:
The vast majority of unpaid caregivers finished high school, and most have completed at least some college. Rounded to the nearest numbers:
As of 2020, 62% of family caregivers were employed while caring for someone over 50, while 38% were not employed. This striking statistic is partially due to caregiver age, as 20% of caregivers are over retirement age.
About 30% of caregivers live in rural areas. Rural caregivers are most often white women. They have, on average, lower incomes and education statuses than their urban and suburban counterparts. They also often care for younger loved ones: The average care recipient age in rural areas is only 66.9.
While most care recipients in the U.S. are female, rural care recipients are more likely to be male. Rural care recipients are more likely to have a greater number of health conditions than those in urban and suburban areas, and often require more assistance with medical/nursing tasks.
Caregiving may be more prevalent in military-connected families than in their civilian counterparts, according to the Blue Star Families’ (BSF) Caregiving in Military Families: 2020 Military Family Lifestyle Survey Special Report.
The demographics of military caregivers differ from their civilian counterparts in the following notable ways:
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The majority of unpaid family caregivers in the U.S identify as non-Hispanic and white. However, a higher percentage of Asian American and Black U.S. residents provide family care than white residents do. While 75% of the U.S. population is white, 61% of caregivers are. Though only 13% of the U.S. population is African American, 14% of caregivers are.
Caregiving is a difficult job that requires extensive time and energy. Family caregivers can be affected by their duties for years to come.
Each family’s care situation is different. These are the top 10 reasons older adults require care.
Every family has different care needs based on a senior’s medical status, ability to perform activities of daily living, and cognitive capacity.
Fewer than half of family caregivers — about 16 million — assist a person with dementia. They often have more demanding caregiving duties on top of the assistance mentioned above. They’re more likely to provide “high-intensity care,” according to the level of care index providers use to determine the amount of time spent caregiving.
Caregiving can be a rewarding role that helps form bonds between generations. However, it may significantly affect the physical and mental health and well-being of caregivers over time.
On average, family caregivers spend $7,242 annually, or 26 percent of their income, on providing care to a senior loved one.
22% of caregivers report using all their short-term savings, while 12% percent say they went through all their long-term savings while taking care of elderly parents at home, according to an AARP report.
Caregivers who are retired or no longer working may go through their savings even more quickly, leaving themselves with little money for care as their health needs increase over time.
Caregivers may incur extra expenses like:
The information contained on this page is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical, legal or financial advice or create a professional relationship between A Place for Mom and the reader. Always seek the advice of your health care provider, attorney or financial advisor with respect to any particular matter, and do not act or refrain from acting on the basis of anything you have read on this site. Links to third-party websites are only for the convenience of the reader; A Place for Mom does not endorse the contents of the third-party sites.