LONG BEACH, Calif., Jan. 29, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- SCAN, a leading senior-focused organization with the mission of keeping seniors healthy and independent, today announced results of its national survey of seniors who are caregivers. Survey findings reaffirm that while caregiving can be an extremely rewarding experience, it can also result in hefty physical, emotional and financial strains. Notably, while 86 percent of respondents indicated that their responsibility is a rewarding experience, findings clearly point to a number of burdens and challenges faced by those who take on this duty.
"We know that caregiving for others, especially when the caregiver is older, can have negative effects on mental, emotional and physical health," stated Eve Gelb, senior vice president of SCAN Health Plan. "It's important that we address this issue head on, given the aging of the U.S. population. This survey provides pertinent insights that will help us as we continue to develop solutions to assist those who are aging and also assuming responsibility for caring for others."
In December 2017 SCAN surveyed 1,000 nationally represented U.S. adults age 65 and older about their caregiving responsibilities. For the purposes of the survey, a "caregiver" is a family member, friend or outsourced helper who feels responsible for a child, sick, elderly or disabled person. The level of care can range from assisting the person in need with all of their daily tasks to checking in on them from time to time.
The SCAN survey demonstrates that, from the physical and emotional health perspective, the implications of caregiving can be equally worrisome. Results show that, of senior caregivers:
- 82 percent have difficulty saying "no" to the job
- 54 percent feel guilty about taking a break from their caregiving tasks to make time for themselves
- 29 percent spend 40 hours a week or more caring for someone
- 47 percent are concerned about the physical strain that comes with caregiving and 44% are concerned about the emotional strains
- 44 percent are not confident that the person they're a caregiver for would be able to find someone else to take care of them.
These findings align with those of a recent study by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, which found unfavorable outcomes in physiologic measures, physical and psychiatric health status indicators, and self-reports on health habits as a result of caregiving. These outcomes have been linked to stressors, such as the duration and type of care provided, the functional and cognitive disabilities of the care recipient, finances and family conflict.
Outside of the emotional and physical strains addressed, the SCAN survey also explored the financial implications associated with caregiving. Most notably, 47 percent of caregivers report having to tighten their belts financially because of their caretaking responsibilities. Among those who have experienced financial strain:
- 34 percent have cut back on their own discretionary spending
- 20 percent have used personal savings to provide care
- 8 percent have accrued credit card debt to provide care
- 5 percent have asked for donations or financial support from friends or family
- 2 percent have even taken out a loan to provide care
"The good news is that help is available for caregivers seeking assistance," said Gelb. "Nobody should take the weight of caregiving entirely on their own shoulders, and we are committed to finding solutions that can be widely shared and implemented. Our goal is to keep caregivers happy and healthy to ensure their responsibilities are fulfilling and not burdensome."
For example, Independence at Home (IAH), a SCAN community service, provides a variety of programs and services at no cost in its California service area. The COACH program for customized care management was specifically designed to connect people 55+ and their caregivers to resources and services to assist with personal care, daily living activities, and household tasks. IAH also provides a range of education on how to manage conditions, navigate the healthcare system, manage medications and plan for life transitions. In addition, SCAN partners with a variety of community organizations, including regional caregiver resource centers.
SCAN is a not-for-profit organization committed to keeping seniors healthy and independent. That's been our mission since our founding in 1977. Today we deliver on that mission through SCAN Health Plan, one of the largest not-for-profit Medicare Advantage plans in the nation. Independence at Home, a SCAN community service, provides vitally needed services and support to seniors, disabled adults and their caregivers. SCAN also offers education programs, community funding, volunteer opportunities and other community services throughout our California service area. To learn more, visit scanhealthplan.com or facebook.com/scanhealthplan or follow us on twitter @scanhealthplan.