Family members or friends caring for aging or disabled individuals in California are under both financial and emotional strain and are likely to face even greater burdens, given recent cuts in state support for programs and services that support in-home care, write the authors of a new policy brief by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
The study looked at California’s estimated 6 million–plus informal caregivers of all ages and found higher levels of serious psychological distress and negative health behaviors, such as smoking, compared with the general population. Of particular concern are an estimated 2.6 million caregivers between the ages of 45 and 64 who may be setting themselves up for an unhealthy future due to higher rates of poor health behaviors, compared with both non-caregivers in the same age range and older caregivers.
“This is the ‘sandwich generation,’ the group of people struggling to meet the needs of both growing children and aging parents, often alone and while holding down full-time jobs,” said Geoffrey Hoffman, the brief’s lead author. “Caregivers need help, especially as baby boomers age and place even greater strains on their and their families’ abilities to cope.”
Using data from the 2009 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), the authors found that California caregivers provide an average of 20 hours of care per week for a friend or relative who can no longer do certain things for themselves, such as bathing, shopping, managing medications or paying bills.
Few caregivers are paid for their work or use state services that might help alleviate both financial and psychological burdens. And with the U.S. Census projecting that the population of those 65 and older will more than double in the next 30 years, the magnitude of largely uncompensated care by family and friends will rapidly increase.
Read the full press release.
View the study.