Fast Facts – Caregivers

 

Caregivers are not the typical kind of spotlight that B Stigma-Free covers, since it is a role, more than an identity. But we think it is an important one – especially when we consider how different types of caregivers are perceived. Caregiving is assisting with the care of a family member, relative or friend who is older, ill or with a disability.

Who is a Caregiver?

  • – 39% of US adults are caregivers. This is an increase from 30% in 2010[1]
  • – 17% of people working full or part-time report that they are caregivers[2]
  • – Overall, 40% of women are caregivers and 37% of men are, but 46% of caregivers who are employed are men. (Q: Is this because women leave the workforce to do their caregiving?)
  • – 39% of White and 40% of Black people are caregivers, and 32% of Hispanic people are caregivers[3]
  • – More people of lower income provide caregiving support than do people with higher education and income[4]
  • – The average caregiver provides 24 hours/week of care; caregivers of adults with mental illness provide an average of 32 hours of care/week[5]

Stigma

People who care for people who have illnesses that are stigmatized often experience that stigma as well. A mantra oftentimes heard among caregivers in the mental health community is “where’s my lasagna?” This sentiment captures the isolation that caregivers of people who have a mental illness feel. For some identities there is a greater comfort-level talking openly about the caregiving responsibilities, and support naturally follows. When there is stigma toward an identity caregivers are less likely to reveal their caregiving responsibilities.

  • – Parents of children with developmental disabilities or mental illness often feel judged, and not supported
  • – 48% of caregivers of adults with a mental illness say they have trouble talking with others about their recipient’s mental health issues[6]
  • – 13% of older people surveyed by the AARP reported feeling isolated because of caregiver responsibilities[7]
  • – Shame and decreased involvement with caregiving led to increased caregiver burden (by 18%) for caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease[8]
  • – 30% of caregivers got support from others with the same condition and this lessened burden/stigma[9]

Support

Caregivers need support from friends and family to alleviate the burden of the caregiving role. Being aware that the caregiver may not feel comfortable asking for help doesn’t mean that the help is not needed or wanted. Some tips when supporting caregivers:

  • Be specific about what you can do to help: e.g. watch the kids, take the car for an oil change, make dinner
  • Stay in touch: a visit, note, call or text goes a long way to help the caregiver feel connected
  • Have an awareness of the caregiver’s own stress levels and encourage their own self-care: take a walk together or go out for lunch. Even a “break” while at home with the care recipient is welcome if getting away is not feasible

 

[1] Fox, S., Duggan, M., and Purcell, K (2013). Family Caregivers are Wired for Health, Pew Research Center. Accessed 8/31/16: http://www.pewinternet.org/2013/06/20/family-caregivers-are-wired-for-health/

[2] Witters, D (2011). The Cost of Caregiving to the US Economy. Gallup. Acessed 8/31/16 http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/151049/cost-caregiving-economy.aspx

[3] Fox, S., Duggan, M., and Purcell, K (2013). Family Caregivers are Wired for Health, Pew Research Center. Accessed 8/31/16: http://www.pewinternet.org/2013/06/20/family-caregivers-are-wired-for-health/

[4] Witters, D (2011). The Cost of Caregiving to the US Economy. Gallup. Acessed 8/31/16 http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/151049/cost-caregiving-economy.aspx

[5] On Pins and Needles: Caregivers of Adults with Mental Illness, Feb 2016. National Alliance on Caregiving. Accessed 8/31/16 http://www.caregiving.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/NAC_Mental_Illness_Study_2016_FINAL_WEB.pdf

[6] ibid

[7] Zimmer, H. (2012). Alone and At Risk, AARP The Magazine. Accessed 8/31/16 http://www.aarp.org/aarp-foundation/our-work/isolation/info-2012/alone-and-at-risk-isolation-survey.html

[8] Werner, P., Mittelman, MS., Goldstein, D., Heinik, J., (2012). Family Stigma and Caregiver Burden in Alzheimer’s Disease, Gerontologist;52(1):89-97.

[9] Fox, S., Duggan, M., and Purcell, K (2013). Family Caregivers are Wired for Health, Pew Research Center. Accessed 8/31/16: http://www.pewinternet.org/2013/06/20/family-caregivers-are-wired-for-health/

Spotlight Calendar

Each month B Stigma-Free will spotlight a different area for attention. Blog articles, fact sheets and social media emphasis will call attention to the issue of stigma and the identified topic. Do you have suggestions for us to include? Tell us your ideas here.

 

2016 Spotlight Topics:

January 2016 – SocioEconomic Status

February 2016 – Eating Disorders

March 2016 – Gender

April 2016 – Substance Abuse

May 2016 – Mental Illness

June 2016 – Older People

July 2016 – Facial Differences

August 2016 – Cancer

September 2016 – Caregivers

October 2016 – Learning Disabilities

November 2016 – PTSD

December 2016 – HIV