Amid record number of family caregivers, what to know about finding relief for fatigue

A record 42 million Americans are serving as family caregivers for loved ones 50 or older, according to a new study by the senior living organization, Seniorly.

The figure, which represents roughly 1 in 6 U.S. adults, has grown by nearly 25% over the past five years.

Increasingly, family caregivers are facing strain.

“With COVID, there is a huge rise in caregiver fatigue,” said Marlena del Hierro, vice president of Seniorly partnerships.

Over the past six years, the percentage of family caregivers who report their own health declining has jumped from 12% to 21%. When looking at out-of-pocket costs, family caregivers are now spending an average of 26% of their income.

Often, the strain comes from the fact that family caregivers are essentially working a “double shift” — holding down a job outside the home and then providing care to an adult loved one at home. About 40% of those receiving care live in the home of their caregivers, according to Seniorly.

Maryland ranks in the top five states for multigenerational households, according to U.S. Census Bureau data cited by Seniorly. Multigenerational households are those with adult residents of at least two generations.

In Maryland, 4.6% of households are multigenerational. In Virginia, it’s 3.6% and in D.C., it’s just under 3%.

Care managers, which can be hired by families, can provide support and help deal with fatigue. Del Hierro said respite is crucial in avoiding burnout and many grants are available.

“Do your research. Don’t assume that you have to pay privately for some of these resources. Make sure that you are getting respite,” Del Hierro said.

Support services highlighted by Seniorly include: 

  • National Family Caregiver Support Program: A national program that provides grants to states to fund support services that help keep older adults in their homes as long as possible. Check out your family’s eligibility.
  • Eldercare Locator: A public service provided by the U.S. Administration on Aging to connect families with services for older adults. Visit their website or call 1-800-677-1116 to speak with a specialist.
  • Family Caregiver Alliance: A nonprofit dedicated to providing services to family caregivers of people with physical and cognitive impairments, including care planning and services, wellness programs, respite services, and more.

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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