A new report finds five generations of Americans are family caregivers in 2020.
The study, from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, finds the country has added 9.5 million caregivers since 2015, or 53 million in total.
They span age groups from the Silent Generation to Generation Z, says Ruby Haughton-Pitts, state director of AARP Oregon.
“Caregivers are just the backbone of a system in our country that hardly get the kind of credit that they deserve,” says Haughton-Pitts, who adds that folks are living longer and prefer aging in their homes, surrounded by family members, friends and neighbors.
The report finds an increase in the number of young people serving as caregivers. Millennials make up 23% of caregivers and members of Generation Z make up 6%.
The study also provides profiles of different groups of caregivers. For example, Haughton-Pitts says, the profile of students examines some interesting trends: “They’re using technology to help care for family members at home. They’re working full-time, they’re going to school, and they’re using the apps to learn how to care for someone.”
She says students also use apps for such chores as ordering groceries.
The survey also finds people spend an average of nearly 24 hours a week providing care. Nearly one-quarter say they find it hard to take care of themselves. Haughton-Pitts cautions caregivers to keep their own health in mind.
“When you get on an airplane, they tell you, ‘Before you put the mask on someone else, put it on yourself.’ So, really, it’s essential that caregivers eat right, they get plenty of sleep, they get some mild exercise in,” she says.
In addition, she says, it’s important for caregivers to ask for help when they need it, including finding respite care to allow them to step away from their duties.