The Informal Caregiving Crisis
The Informal Caregiving Crisis

The Informal Caregiving Crisis

America is experiencing a greater need for senior care and long-term care (LTC) services as the “baby boomer” generation is entering retirement age. A crisis is arising because with so many people retiring and needing care, there may be a massive caregiver shortage.

By 2024, the number of people that will need home health care services is estimated to reach 120 million. Unfortunately, there may not be enough caregivers to cover the rising home health care needs. This growing crisis is putting more and more pressure on informal caregivers.


Informal Caregiving Defined 

An informal caregiver is any unpaid person that assists an individual in need of care with daily living activities and medical needs. Duties that these caregivers take upon themselves include but are not limited to: bathing, dressing, preparing meals, feeding, toileting, performing chores, shopping, and managing finances. 

Informal caregiving usually takes place in a home setting and the informal caregiver usually resides in the same house as the elderly person in need of care. Those who end up caring for a senior informally may be spouses/partners, other family members, friends, or neighbors.


The Invisible Cost to Caregivers 

Though informal caregiving does not come with a price tag like hiring a formal caregiver, do not be confused: informal caregiving is very pricey. The harsh reality is that informal caregiving ends up costing more than double the price formal caregiving. People spend $241.7 billion annually on paid care at home or in a facility. Compare that with $522 billion lost annually due to informal care spending and opportunity cost losses.   

And who is paying the price for informal caregiving? Caregivers absorb the cost with the sacrifices they make to provide care for their family or friends. The majority of informal caregivers are employed females, and a quarter of informal caregivers are millennials who have less income and assets than their parents did at their age. 

The cost to informal caregivers includes economic, time and health sacrifices. In addition to out-of-pocket expenses related to caregiving, informal caregivers have less paid work hours and experience other career sacrifices. The time that informal caregivers invest in administering care can quickly add up to the equivalent of having a second job. On average, informal caregivers spend 24 hours a week away from their own personal and professional responsibilities. The health toll on informal caregivers is astounding as caregivers are twice as likely to report poor overall health as compared to the general populace. Informal caregivers are most often not trained to handle the physical and emotional challenges that are associated with caregiving and are more prone to depression, anxiety, anger, escalated substance abuse, and higher mortality rates. 

As an informal caregiver, you may be thinking that you are helping and doing the best to provide care, but you may be doing yourself and your loved one a great disservice by not seeking any professional help. 

For those individuals who need full-time care but do not want to move to a residential senior home, adult day care is a great alternative. Adult day care gives informal caregivers a break and time to recharge emotionally and physically. The thing that most informal caregivers struggle with is providing daily bathing and hygiene care. Having those duties taken care of lifts a huge amount of responsibility from the shoulders of unpaid caregivers. And for the majority of informal caregivers who have to work during the day, the fact that their loved ones are taken care of by professionals while there are away provides peace of mind. 

If you are an informal caregiver struggling with your caregiving duties, contact Northeast Adult Day Care and let us ease your burden. Our all-in-one price includes transportation, nutrition, and activities, and is an affordable option for your elderly loved one.