The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP have just logo_nacreleased a new report about caregivers in the United States, an update of the last one issued in 2004. In just five years, I am amazed by some of the new information, and how significantly some of the numbers have changed.

The report is based on interviews with 1,480 caregivers throughout the U.S. These caregivers are unpaid, family caregivers. Of the caregivers interviewed, 32 percent were minorities, including African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans.

Interesting facts about caregivers:
· There are 65 million caregivers in the U.S., or 30% of the adult population,
· 66% of caregivers are female,
· Average age of caregivers is 48,
· 86% of caregivers care for a relative; 36% care for a parent,
· 65% have been caregiving fewer than 5 years, 31% for 5 years or more.

Observations: The total number of caregivers is a dramatic increase because in 2004, the projection was 44.4 million. Also, the average age of caregivers increased, indicating that younger caregivers under the age of 50 declined. This means the responsibility of caregiving continues to fall on the shoulders of baby boomer women. In addition, the percentage of those caregiving for five years and longer is increasing because of the longer life span of the aging population.

Top 10 reasons why recipients need care (includes percentage of respondents):

1. Old Age 12%
2. Alzheimer’s/Dementia 10%
3. Cancer 7%
4. Mental/Emotional illness 7%
5. Heart Disease 5%
6. Stroke 5%
7. Diabetes 4%
8. Mobility 4%
9. Surgery/Wounds 4%
10. Arthritis 3%

caregiver1Observations: Alzheimer’s/Dementia is the No. 1 illness mentioned, and the most prevalent amongst an increasingly older population. If we expect to live longer, we can no longer deny that there might be a possibility that we will be afflicted with any one or more of these illnesses. Still, it amazes me how many seniors are in denial about long-term care for themselves in terms of financial planning and preparing advanced directives. I cannot advocate it enough. I have seen too many negative experiences in my own family from lack of legal and financial preparation.

Interesting facts about care recipients:

· Average age of care recipients is 69.3 (an increase from 66.5 in 2004 because of the growing aging population),
· 51% live in their own home; 29% live in the caregiver’s household,
· 4% live in nursing homes; 4% live in assisted living facilities.

Observations: It seems more care recipients are being cared for in their own homes. The concept of aging in place is alive and growing. The demand for more services to help caregivers and seniors age in their own homes will certainly increase. I am thrilled by this information because we developed a variety of free tools on eCare Diary, such as the appointment and medication management tool, precisely for this reason: to make life easier and enable independent living.

New information:

· The number of caregivers reporting poor health as a result of caregiving increased,
· 73% of caregivers are also employed while giving care,
· The demand for more information on caregiving is increasing,
· 53% of caregivers have used the Internet to find information,
· 45% reported having used some sort of technology in the care of the recipient.

ecarediarylogoObservations: The importance of caregivers caring for themselves and finding ways to manage couldn’t be more relevant when you read these statistics. And this month, eCare Diary is stepping up the pace.

Among this week’s news: Expert Margery Pabst, author of Enrich Your Caregiving Journey, will now write monthly at eCare Diary on caring for the caregiver. Check out her first blog here. And stay tuned as I report on advances in technology to assist in caregiving that can, and will, help caregivers manage and reduce stress, and save time. These advances will be part of our future — as will the community we’re building every day online.

Susan Baida, former marketing executive with Starwood Hotels, Estée Lauder Companies, Avon and Del Laboratories, is co-founder of eCareDiary.com, an online community formed in late 2008 for those caring for elders in our families. She and her husband, John Mills, created the site based on Mills’ experience as a caregiver for his father, who had suffered from Parkinson’s Disease. Having spent over 20 years working in the health care system, Mills found coordinating long-term care to be difficult because of the lack of good information. The site includes tools and resources for those seeking and providing long-term care, and a singular set of tools called Care Diary, designed to make coordinating care and sharing information easy among family members and other caregivers.

Susan knows firsthand the challenges of caring for elderly parents and family members with serious illnesses. For eight years, she cared for her paternal grandmother, who suffered from severe rheumatoid arthritis. She also coordinates care for her parents: Her father suffers from Type II diabetes and is partially blind, and her mother recently underwent foot surgery that left her debilitated for several months. A member of Manhattan Community Board 5 since 2002, Baida has served as the Chair of the Human Services Committee, which addresses issues pertaining to the elderly, healthcare, education and social justice. She has written numerous resolutions to help improve services for the elderly and was honored by the Manhattan Borough President for her efforts to address public school overcrowding. She is a graduate of Emory University in Atlanta, Ga. She and John have a 1-year-old daughter, Avery.