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RESEARCH ON CAREGIVING


The following are brief reports on recent research about caregiving.

 

1. It was reported in the May/June issue of Sprituality & Health that we require at least four hours a month of face to face volunteering for good health.

2. In a recent study at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research, Stephanie Brown followed 423 elderly couples for five years. She asked them whether they helped friends, neighbors or relatives with housework, child care, errands, transportation or other necessities. Brown' study, published by the Minnesota Board of Aging in January of 2003 found that those who reported not helping others had twice the mortality rate of the the helpers.


Brown found that receiving help did not seem to lower the mortality rate. 'these findings suggest that it isn't what we get from relationships athat makes contact with others so beneficial, Brown says, "It is what we give. There is evidence to suggest that individuals with a fighting spirit survive longer with cancer than individuals who feel helpless or less optimistic about their chances for survival. Now it seems that the same may be true of a giving spirit.

3. The value of caregiving to society is eatimated at $ 257 billion annually, with many Americans holding a second job as caregiver, according to a study, Caregiving in the U.S.. It was produced by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP with funding by the Metlife foundation.

A key finding finding is that the responsibilities of caregiving can create long-term problems in the workplace -- a growing concern as the population ages and there are more instances of people living with debilitating conditions like cancer, stroke and Alzheimer's Disease.

The survey counts 44.4 million people as caregivers(those who provide unpaid care to another adult). 59% of these caregivers either work, or have worked, while providing care. 62% made adjustments to their work life by taking time away or leaving their jobs entirely.

  • Some highlights include:
  • Almost four in ten( 39%) caregivers are men, and 60% of them are working full- time.
  • The typical caregiver is a 46 year old woman with some college education who works and spends more than 20 hours per week caring for her mother.
  • 83% of caregivers say they assist relatives.
  • Among caregivers who care for someone other than a spouse, the most burdened caregivers say they make an average monthly financial contribution of $347.
  • Almost 17% of caregivers say they provide 40 or more hours of care per week.
  • The average length of care is 4.3 years, but three in ten caregivers provide care for more than five years.
  • Caregivers age 50 and older, who tend to care for mothers and grandmothers, are among those most likely to have produced care for 20 years or more.
  • Caregivers say the main health problems for care recipients over 50 are heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's or other dementias.
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