New Report on Unpaid Eldercare in the United States - Thirty-Nine Percent of Eldercare Providers Cared for Someone Age 85 or Older
DATA FROM THE AMERICAN TIME USE SURVEY
October 9, 2017 - Sixteen percent of the civilian noninstitutional population age 15 and over (41.3 million people) provide unpaid eldercare, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. About one-fourth (26 percent) of eldercare providers engage in unpaid eldercare on a given day, spending an average of 2.8 hours providing this care. These estimates are averages for the 2-year period of 2015-16.
Eldercare providers are defined as individuals who provide unpaid care to someone age 65 or older who needs help because of a condition related to aging. This care can be provided to household or nonhousehold members, as well as persons living in retirement homes or assisted care facilities. Eldercare can involve a range of care activities, such as assisting with grooming, preparing meals, and providing transportation. Eldercare also can involve providing companionship or being available to assist when help is needed, and thus it can be associated with nearly any activity.
Information about eldercare providers and the time they spend providing care are collected as part of the American Time Use Survey (ATUS). The ATUS is a continuous household survey that provides estimates on how people spend their time. For a description of ATUS data, concepts, and methodology, see the Technical Note.
Eldercare providers in 2015-16
• Of the 41.3 million eldercare providers in the civilian noninstitutional population age 15 and over, the majority (56 percent) were women.
• Individuals ages 55 to 64 were the most likely to provide eldercare (24 percent), followed by those ages 45 to 54 (21 percent) and those ages 65 and over (19 percent).
• Almost one-half (48 percent) of eldercare providers had provided this care for 2 years or less, while 14 percent had provided care for 10 years or more. Forty- five percent of caregivers provided care daily or several times a week.
• Thirty-nine percent of eldercare providers cared for someone age 85 or older, while 14 percent provided care for someone age 65 to 69.
• A majority of all eldercare providers ages 15 to 34 cared for a grandparent. Providers ages 35 to 64 were more likely to care for a parent than were caregivers who were younger and older, and those ages 65 and over were more likely to care for a spouse.
• Sixteen percent of eldercare providers cared solely for someone with whom they lived, and 83 percent cared solely for someone with whom they did not live. Those who provided eldercare for someone in their household were more than three times as likely to provide eldercare on a given day than those who provided care for someone living in another household--64 percent compared with 18 percent.
Time spent providing eldercare in 2015-16
• On a given day, about one-fourth (26 percent) of eldercare providers engaged in eldercare. Compared with those in other age groups, eldercare providers who were ages 65 and older were the most likely to provide care on a given day (38 percent).
• On average over all days--including days they did and did not provide care--providers who cared solely for someone with whom they lived (6.5 million providers) spent 2.2 hours per day providing care.
• Eldercare providers who cared solely for a parent spent an average of 49 minutes per day providing eldercare (includes days they did and did not provide care).
• On days they provided eldercare, persons spent an average of 2.8 hours in caregiving activities. Providers ages 65 and over spent the most time providing eldercare (3.6 hours).
• On weekend days they provided care, employed eldercare providers spent an average of 2.4 hours doing so. This compares to an average of 1.8 hours for employed caregivers who provided care on weekdays.
• Women were more likely than men to provide eldercare on a given day--28 percent of female eldercare providers engaged in eldercare activities on an average day, compared with 23 percent of male eldercare providers. On days they provided eldercare, men and women spent about the same amount of time providing this care (2.8 hours and 2.9 hours, respectively).
Eldercare activities in 2015-16
• On days they provided care, 37 percent of eldercare providers engaged in caregiving associated with household activities, spending on average 32 minutes per day in these activities. This includes 27 percent of providers who engaged in eldercare associated with food preparation and cleanup and 13 percent who provided eldercare associated with housework.
• Thirty-seven percent of eldercare providers engaged in caregiving associated with leisure and sports on days they provided care, spending 1.0 hour per day in these activities. This includes 24 percent of eldercare providers who engaged in eldercare associated with socializing and communicating, spending 25 minutes per day in these activities.
Eldercare providers who were parents of household children under age 18 in 2015-16
• There were 8.7 million eldercare providers who were parents of children living at home. Of these parents, about one-third (33 percent) had a child under age 6, and the remainder (67 percent) were parents whose youngest child was between the ages of 6 and 17.
• Almost one-half (47 percent) of eldercare providers who were parents of children under the age of 18 provided care for their own parent. These persons sometimes are described as members of the “sandwich generation,” because they are in between two generations that require care.
• Most (81 percent) eldercare providers who were parents were employed, and 64 percent were employed full time. Eighty-six percent of fathers were employed full time, compared with 48 percent of mothers.
• Seventeen percent of eldercare providers who were parents had no spouse or unmarried partner present in the household.
• Eldercare providers who were parents were less likely to provide daily care than the overall population of eldercare providers (14 percent compared with 21 percent) but just as likely to provide care several times a week (about 25 percent).
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