New Research Highlights Growing Caregiver Crisis

Supermajority Education Fund

November 22, 2019

Nearly three-quarters of American think there are not currently enough caregivers in the country to meet current needs and see the problem only getting worse as the years go on, according to new polling conducted in a joint survey by Maria Shriver’s organization, The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement, and Caring Across Generations, released this month. 

Caregiving, as defined by the survey,  encompasses caring for the elderly, children, the disabled, or other family members. Fifty-six percent of those surveyed said there aren’t enough professional caregivers to meet our country’s needs today, and 73 percent said there are not enough to meet our country’s needs “now or in the future.”  The study also found that women are more likely to identify the current deficit than men — 65 percent versus 48 percent — even though two in three people are caregivers; 66 percent of those surveyed provide daily care for a family member, preschool child or older relative.

The survey also found that the number of hours people are devoting to caregiving would translate into a part-time or full-time gig — often on top of full-time employment. The average number of hours those surveyed said they devote to taking care of others was 36 hours, and 69 percent of caregivers surveyed are employed while 55 percent have full-time work.

Working two full-time jobs would lead anyone to feel stressed. Men were more likely to say they feel loved and appreciated for their work (48 percent and 41 percent, respectively), while women were more likely to admit they feel stressed (44 percent) and overwhelmed (42 percent) by their duties.

Those stressful hours weren’t specifically identified as a reason for the overwhelming support of a federal program to help caregivers. Still, many Americans said they would want to participate in such a program. 

“A majority of Americans support a federal program that everyone pays into and everyone could access for support including childcare, paid family leave, long term care for a disability, and care for a family member as they get older (82% support overall),” according to a memo detailing the survey’s findings. “Not only do 4 in 5 Americans support this program, but it enjoys majority, broad-based support across partisan lines.”

Another stress trigger the survey identified is that most Americans do not have a long-term plan for their own care. Twenty-nine percent of women say they have a plan for aging while 34 percent of people surveyed have a plan, according to the survey. When those surveyed were told the average cost of long-term care ($138,000), 65 percent said they felt unprepared to afford care as they age.

The survey was conducted by Hart Research Associates from October 21-26. The online survey was among 1,000 adults nationwide, but to make sure the survey reached 200 African-American men and women as well as Hispanic men and women (for a total of 1,510 contacted), the survey over-samples.