The caregiving crunch is here.
Already, 40 million Americans are providing care to an adult family member or friend, most often to an aging parent or spouse. As the massive baby-boomer generation hits their 70s, the demand for family caregiving will skyrocket—and it’s poised to become America’s biggest off-the-books industry.
In order to better understand the caregiving crunch, my firm, Age Wave, in partnership with Merrill Lynch, just completed a study, The Journey of Caregiving: Honor, Responsibility and Financial Complexity, that uncovers the rewards and sacrifices of this complex lifestage.
One of the most surprising findings our study uncovered—and it’s good news for us all—is that despite the significant financial and emotional burdens it brings, caregiving seems to give back as much as it takes from the caregiver. Almost all caregivers (91%) told us they feel grateful for the chance to provide care. “At first, it was just scary and stressful,” one focus group participant explained, “but I got to know my mom more deeply. And I learned so much about myself.”
The majority of respondents (65%) also said that caregiving has brought meaning and purpose to their life. Most (77%) went so far as to say they would gladly take on the role of caregiver for another loved one. More than half (61%) told us the biggest benefit of being a caregiver is feeling that they’re doing the right thing. And often, caregivers begin to take better care of their own health as a result of their caregiving experience (86%).