Caregivers a Profile

A Profile of Caregivers

In April 2004, the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP published the results of their comprehensive random telephone survey about caregiving. Funded by the MetLife Foundation, the study, Caregiving in the U.S., sought to update and expand the body to knowledge about caregivers’ activities, the perceived impact of caregiving on their daily lives, and the unmet needs of the caregiver population. In sum, 6,139 adults were surveyed, and 1,247 caregivers were identified and interviewed. The caregiver sample included an over-sampling of 200 African American, 200 Hispanic, and 200 Asian American caregivers, in an effort to better understand ethnic and racial differences in responses (AARP and National Alliance for Caregiving, 2004).

The study defined a caregiver as someone who provides unpaid care to another who requires help with activities of daily living (ADLs) or instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). ADLs include basic physical maneuvers that healthy individuals perform daily without assistance: bathing, dressing, using the toilet, transferring oneself (from the bed to a chair, for example), and feeding, IADLs define another range of tasks considered instrumental to one’s self-sufficiency. They include shopping, cooking meals, performing household tasks, doing laundry, managing money, using the telephone, and taking medications by oneself. ADLs and IADLs are most often used to identify caregivers, to measure the level and type of work that caregivers perform, and to understand care recipients’ needs (so as to determine their eligibility for public programs or services).

Who Provides Care?

  • About 44.4 million Americans (21 percent of the adult population) act as caregivers.
  • An estimated 17 percent, or 18,539,500 households in the United States, contain at least one caregiver who provides care to someone age 50 or older.
  • An estimated 4 percent, or 4,362,200 households, contain a caregiver of someone 18 to 49 years old.
  • Eighty-three percent of caregivers are related to their care recipients; 17 percent came from outside the family.
  • A typical caregiver is female (61 percent), approximately 46 years old, has at least some college experience (66 percent), and spends an average of 20 hours or more per week providing care to someone age 50 or older (79 percent).
  • Male caregivers are more likely to be working full-time (60 percent) than female caregivers (41 percent).
  • Asian caregivers are more often male than female, a higher proportion than any other ethnic background surveyed. (Fifty-four percent of Asian caregivers are men, compared to 41 percent of Hispanics, 38 percent of whites, and 33 percent of African Americans giving care.)
  • The majority of caregivers are married or living with a partner (62 percent), and most have juggled work with caregiving responsibilities at some point during their roles as caregivers.


The information above is reprinted from Working with Seniors: Health, Financial and Social Issues with permission from Society of Certified Senior Advisors® . Copyright © 2009. All rights reserved.