]According to new figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growing number of Americans joining the ranks of senior citizens are relying on their friends and relatives to provide unpaid elder care at an increasing rate.
According to the report, about 16% of all people in the United States age 15 and older provide some kind of unpaid or uncompensated elder care services every year. That’s nearly 40 million people caring for an elderly friend, family member, or loved one, and are doing so without pay. Of those providing unpaid elder care services, about 25% do so every day at a rate of just over three hours per day. The results were released as a part of the American Time Use Survey, or ATUS, an ongoing household survey that examines how Americans spend their time everyday.
In its ATUS survey, the Bureau of Labor Statistics uses a broad definition of elder care provider. This definition includes anyone who provides someone aged 65 and older with some kind of care or assistance to help that person with the condition related to aging. For example, some people provide broad support by making themselves available to an elderly relative to assist with whatever needs arise. Others provide more regular and structured assistance, such as by aiding elderly people with preparing meals, maintaining their home, or providing regular transportation.
Average Elder Care Provider
Just over half, or 56%, of the 40 million people who provide unpaid elder care services are women. Of those, about 45% are between the ages of 45 and 64, while another 16% are over the age of 65. The vast majority of people who provide such services, 70%, do so for only one person. Another 22% provide care to two people, while only 7% care for three or more elderly seniors.
In the vast majority of situations, about 85%, elder care providers did not live with the elderly person they assist. 22% of those providing services were themselves parents who also cared for children under the age of 18.
For people between the ages of 15 to 34, nearly half of them providing unpaid elder care services did so for a grandparent. On the other hand, those between the ages 35 to 64 provided care to a parent, while those over the age of 65 tended to care for friends or neighbors.
Serious Time Commitments
Many elder care providers spent a good portion of their daily lives providing seniors with assistance. About 23% of those who assisted with elder care provided some sort of support on a daily basis. Those over the age of 65 spent an average of four hours a day assisting elderly people, while those between the ages 15 to 24 spent just over one hour per day.