What does “elder care” actually mean? Most understand the term refers to all of the tasks done to help a senior with day-to-day activities. Buy fewer consider the realities of that care. If an adult child is engaged in elder care, what is the actual effect on their day-to-day lives? This knowledge is important for elder law estate planning, because families need to understand the reality of this care when making plans for how it will be provided if needed down the road.
Fortunately, more information than ever before is now available which confirms exactly how Americans spend their time when helping aging friends and family. That is because, for the first time ever, the Bureau of Labor included questions about elder care in their annual American Time Use Survey.
The American Time Use Survey is taken annually and involves 12,000 participants documents exactly what they did the previous twenty four hours. The results from last year were recently released. The full report can be here found HERE.
Who Is Being Cared For?
What did the results reveal? Nearly 40 million have provided care to someone as a result of an “aging related condition” in the last three months–this represents 16.% of the entire U.S. population over the age of fifteen. The data comes as no surprise to our New York elder care lawyers, as we understand that many friends and family members work to provide support to aging relatives on their own without the need to hire outside services.
Adult children are far and away the largest group of caregivers, representing over 42% of all caregivers. They are followed by those who care for non-relatives–often friends–representing 25% of caregivers. About 21% are caring for aging relatives who are not parents. About 19% are caring for grandparents, and about 5% are helping a spouse or partner.
It is somewhat surprising to see spouses representing such a small percentage of elder caregivers. Some speculate that part of the reason is that spouses do not consider their tasks to be elder care. For example, when an adult goes grocery shopping for an elderly parent, that is obviously elder care. However, a spouse will likely go grocery shopping for the couple without considering it anything different than the norm. Each New York City elder law attorney appreciates that many spouses care for aging partners, even if such care is not categorized as elder care.
What Care is Provided?
The care is not a one-time event as about 20% of caregivers perform elder care tasks every day, and 25% perform it several times a week. When helping most caregivers spend at least three hours on the tasks. Much of that time is spent on leisure activities, such as providing companionship with a single senior. The second largest category involves household work and chores–representing about 23% of all elder care. Other tasks include a wide ranging of activities, from helping seniors eat and drink (7.3%), travel (5.4%), and purchase goods and services (4.6%).
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