Serving With Faith and Care

New Survey

4/29/2009
Economic conditions taking toll on family caregivers and their ability to provide care.
 
MINNEAPOLISThe Evercare® Survey of The Economic Downturn and Its Impact on
Family Caregiving
, released today, finds that during the past 12 months, almost 20 percent of caregivers
report a decline in the quality of care their loved ones receive as a direct result of the recession, and 14
percent say the amount of care they have been able to provide for others during this time period has
decreased. The survey is published by Evercare by UnitedHealthcare and the National Alliance on
Caregiving.

Both factors are consequences of the financial and emotional toll the economy is having on the nation’s
44 million caregivers. The survey shows 43 percent of working caregivers have experienced workplace
pay cuts or a reduction in work hours, and 15 percent have lost their jobs in the past year, adversely
impacting their ability to continue caring for their loved one. Additionally, 51 percent of all caregivers
surveyed are suffering from escalated stress over caregiving responsibilities as a result of the economic
downturn, with half of working caregivers being less comfortable during the current economy asking for
time away from work for caregiving duties. The potential impact is that care recipients will experience
greater risk in their health and well-being during these challenging economic times.

“Caregivers are a critically important aspect of our already-burdened health care system,” said Dr. Alan
Sokolow, chief medical officer for Evercare. “If our caregivers are putting their own health at risk because
of the economic implications of their commitment to their loved ones, we now have two lives that are
affected.”

The survey also showed that 25 percent of caregivers are cutting back on their caregiving spending
because of the economic downturn, and more than 60 percent of caregivers who say they have
experienced increases in their caregiving expenses report having difficulty paying for their own basic
necessities like food, utilities and housing. Among working caregivers who reported increased caregiving
spending, 33 percent have had to take on an additional job or work more hours in the past year to keep up
with caregiving costs, and 47 percent have used all or most of their savings. Twenty-one percent of
caregivers surveyed say they have moved into the same home with their loved one in the past 12 months
as a result of the economic downturn.

The results suggest a common theme among caregivers—a call-to-action for programs and services to
help support them and their loved ones. As one of the nation’s largest health care coordination programs,
Evercare is a strong supporter of the family caregiver in their critical role as part of the health plan
member’s primary care team. Evercare offers direct support to family caregivers nationwide through its
Solutions for Caregivers program, which includes care management counsel and support from Evercare
Nurse Practitioners and Care Managers. This program can be accessed through some employer work life
programs or directly on a private-pay basis.

“These are challenging economic times for all Americans, but our most vulnerable populations –
including family caregivers – are facing tremendous financial and emotional hardships,” said Gail Hunt,
president of the National Alliance for Caregiving, the nation’s leading authority on research, policy
analysis and advocacy for family caregivers across the lifespan. “This survey reinforces the need for
caregiver support to become a central component of health care, long-term care and social service policy
reform. Our caregivers need an economic stimulus plan of their own.”

The Importance of Supporting Caregivers
The care provided by family caregivers is a substantial part of America’s health care system, with an
estimated annual economic value of $375 billion, according to AARP’s Valuing the Invaluable: The
Economic Value of Family Caregiving
. Yet, a recent brief by the Commonwealth Fund shows that
caregivers are twice as likely as the general population to develop multiple chronic illnesses due to
increased stress and neglect of their own health care needs. People with chronic illnesses are also among
the heaviest users of medical care in the nation— those with five or more chronic conditions make up a
fraction of Americans age 65 and older, but account for a majority of all Medicare spending, according to
a report by the Partnership for Solutions.

The Evercare® Survey of The Economic Downturn and Its Impact on Family Caregiving is the latest
research in a series of caregiving studies and surveys conducted by Evercare and NAC to continue to
educate and raise awareness of this valuable group, including studies on the health risks and out-of-pocket
costs associated with family caregiving.

NOTE TO EDITORS: The full findings of The Evercare® Survey of The Economic Downturn and Its
Impact on Family Caregiving
can be found at www.AboutEvercare.com along with tips, resources and
other helpful information for caregivers.

About the Survey/Methodology

The National Alliance for Caregiving and Evercare worked with Mathew Greenwald & Associates, a
leading market research firm, to implement the survey, which was fielded through a telephone omnibus
survey from February 25 to March 19, 2009. Survey respondents were asked whether they had been a
caregiver in the past 12 months.

In addition, to qualify as a caregiver, respondents had to report having helped their care recipient with at
least one activity of daily living or instrumental activity of daily living. Qualified caregivers were then
asked additional questions.

A total of 3,305 respondents went through the screening questions, and as a result, 1,005 caregivers were
identified. Based on weighted data, the incidence of caregiving was 30.7 percent.

About Evercare by UnitedHealthcare
Evercare by UnitedHealthcare is one of the largest care coordination programs for individuals living with
disabilities, long-term or advanced illness. Founded in 1987, Evercare serves members nationwide
through its health plans, hospice care and caregiver support.

About National Alliance for Caregiving
Established in 1996, the National Alliance for Caregiving is a nonprofit coalition of more than 40 national
organizations that focuses on issues of family caregiving across the lifespan. The Alliance was created to
conduct research, do policy analysis, develop national programs and increase public awareness of family
caregiving issues. They also work to strengthen state and local caregiving coalitions and work on
international caregiving alliances. Recognizing that family caregivers make important societal and
financial contributions toward maintaining the well being of those for whom they care, the Alliance’s
mission is to be the objective national resource on family caregiving with the goal of improving the
quality of life for families and care recipients. For more information about the Alliance, visit:
www.caregiving.org.

Rss