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Becoming a Caregiver: A Comprehensive Guide for Caregivers

Based on the needs expressed in the survey by caregivers, Transamerica Institute prepared a Caregiver Guide that provides information on becoming a caregiver; legal documents and health insurance coverage; support services; and additional resources for both caregivers and care recipients.

This guide includes topics such as:

  • Becoming a Caregiver
  • Planning for Care
  • Navigating Health Insurance Coverage
  • Financial Support for Caregivers
  • Caring for the Caregiver
  • Support Services and Resources for the Caregiver
  • Free and Discounted Support Services for Care Recipients

The Many Faces of Caregivers: A Close-Up Look at Caregiving and Its Impacts

The Many Faces of Caregivers: A Close-Up Look at Caregiving and Its Impacts, a report by nonprofit Transamerica Institute, a collaboration between its Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS) and Center for Health Studies (TCHS).  

Transamerica Institute’s national survey of 3,000+ non-professional caregivers examines their duties and the impact caregiving has on their personal health and well-being, employment, finances and retirement preparations.

  • It offers an in-depth analysis and demographic portraits of caregivers by employment status, gender, generation, household income, ethnicity, and whether they are the primary caregiver and became a caregiver voluntarily or not.  
  • The report also offers detailed findings about care recipients, including their health status and financial situation. 
  • This survey was conducted online in the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of Transamerica Institute between March 13 and April 21, 2017 among 3,183 caregivers, including 1,137 Primary and 829 Non-Primary caregivers. 

Who are Caregivers?

“Caregivers are a highly diverse population that includes men and women of all ages, ethnicities, income levels and employment status. Amidst this diversity, caregivers share much in common in terms of their motivations for being a caregiver and the types of duties they perform,” said Hector De La Torre, executive director of TCHS. To illustrate the diversity of the caregiver population, the survey finds:

  • Fifty-three percent are women and 47 percent are men;
  • Thirty-four percent are Millennials (born 1979-2000), 22 percent are Generation X (born 1965-1978), 37 percent are Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964), and 7 percent are Matures (born before 1946);
  • Thirty-nine percent are employed full-time, 13 percent are employed part-time, 8 percent are self-employed, and 40 percent are not employed; and
  • Eighteen percent had a household income (HHI) of less than $25k in 2016, 17 percent had an HHI between $25k and $49k, 30 percent had an HHI between $50k and $99k, 28 percent had an HHI of $100k or more, and 7 percent declined to answer.

The Health Effects of Being a Caregiver

“Given the demands of being a caregiver, especially when juggling a job and other responsibilities, caregivers may be susceptible to health impacts,” said De La Torre. Fifty-five percent of caregivers say their caregiving duties leave them physically and emotionally exhausted. Forty-four percent say their duties leave them feeling completely overwhelmed.

Three out of four caregivers say they are in excellent or good health (74 percent), but approximately one in six caregivers (17 percent) indicate their general health has gotten worse/declined since becoming a caregiver. Caregivers with an HHI of less than $25k are least likely to say they are in good or excellent health (52 percent) – and most likely to say their health has declined since becoming a caregiver (31 percent).

Ninety percent of caregivers have health insurance, a survey finding that is relatively consistent across demographic segments with two notable exceptions: lower rates of coverage among Hispanic caregivers (75 percent) and caregivers with an HHI of less than $25k (77 percent).