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Family Caregivers Getting Younger on Average: Genworth

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Caregivers are getting younger on average.

So are their care recipients.

And the caregivers are weighed down by depression and battling stress, despite the pride they feel at being able to help their charges.

Those are some of the findings of Genworth’s latest Beyond Dollars study, which also reports that no matter a caregiver’s age, the burdens of providing care hit hard.

Back in 2010, at the time of the first Beyond Dollars study, caregivers were 53 years old on average, but that’s dropped steadily over the intervening years. Now more than half (58%) of them fall between the ages of 25 and 54, with an average age of 47.

Their charges are younger, too — 66 on average, down from older than 75 in 2010.

Why are so many younger people in need of care? Blame accidents. In 2010, just 11% of those on the receiving end of such care were the victims of accidents that made them unable to fend for themselves, but in 2018 that’s risen to 21%. Still, age-related physical limitations (44%) and illness (32%) are still responsible for the majority of those needing care.

And the toll on their caregivers is heavy. Although most said they were proud of being able to do it, with 82% reporting good feelings about caregiving, that’s not all they feel. In fact, 53% reported high levels of stress, with 41% reporting feelings of depression and resentment.

And 52% don’t feel qualified to be providing physical care to their charges.

All that stress is weighing on their health, with 46% of caregivers saying that a long-term care event negatively affected their health and well-being. It weighs on their family time, with 50% saying they have less time for spouses and children — not to mention themselves — and 40% said it had a negative effect on their relationship with their spouse; 29% said the same about their kids.

Then there’s the financial angle. Most caregivers didn’t sign up to help finance an elder’s care; nonetheless, caregivers spend an average of $10,400 on out-of-pocket expenses, with 70% of caregivers buying everyday items for their charges, 61% of families helping cover the cost of professional home care and 48% of caregivers reporting a downgrade in their own quality of life thanks to the added expenses.

That’s not even accounting for how caregiving affects the professional life of the caregiver. Fifty percent say it’s taken a toll, with 70% missing time at work, 46% cutting back their hours and 62% reporting lost income as a result of caregiving.

If they had it to do over again? Both caregivers (84%) and those receiving care (75%) said they’d do it differently if they had the chance, with “planning better” as the one thing they’d change if they could.

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