AARP Focuses on Caregiver Stress This Holiday Season

Article by appeared in Association NOW

The holidays are a stressful, albeit joyful, time of year. And for families and individuals caring for a friend or relative there’s added stress, according to a new study commissioned by AARP and the Ad Council.

To help relieve some of the stress that an estimated 42 million U.S. caregivers face—and just in time for National Family Caregivers Month—the groups unveiled a new series of public service advertisements, including several ads targeted toward the Hispanic community. More than one third of Hispanic households includes a caregiver, the groups said, citing data from the National Alliance for Caregiving. And those caregivers report more intensive caregiving situations than the general population.

The PSAs are an extension of AARP’s Caregiver Assistance campaign, which launched in 2012.

“I have been the primary caregiver for both my parents for many years,” Amy Goyer, AARP’s family and caregiving expert, said in a statement. “I could not have done it without the support from my adoptive family at AARP. The resources and information they have provided me have not only allowed me to help my own family, but empowered me to reach out to the thousands of caregivers who are working alone. These new PSAs are a poignant reminder of the way that roles change, and how AARP is here to help.”

In its findings, AARP found that caregivers in the U.S. spend 30 billion hours per year caring for older family members and friends, or about $450 billion worth of unpaid care. Some of that care included complex medical or nursing tasks, including managing multiple medications, wound care, and using medical equipment.

“Our findings provide a new and better estimate of the monetary value of the care that millions of relatives and friends provide to the nation’s elderly,” Amalavoyal V. Chari, the study’s lead author, said in a statement. “These numbers are huge and help put the enormity of this largely silent and unseen workforce into perspective.”

Other key findings:

  • The biggest source of stress during the holiday season among the general population (53 percent) and Hispanic caregivers (45 percent) was not having enough money.
  • Having the family together was one of the top-three things that the general population (44 percent) and Hispanic caregivers (51 percent) looked forward to most during the holidays.
  • Other sources of stress during the holiday season for the general population of caregivers and Hispanic caregivers included trying to make the holidays meaningful (33 percent/27 percent), needing more time to shop for gifts (30 percent/24 percent), and juggling work schedules with caregiving (27 percent/23 percent).

In addition to the PSAs with the Ad Council, AARP will launch two new support tools on its Caregiver Resource Center. The first is a portal where caregivers can share their stories, and the second is a nationwide directory of senior-care providers that includes consumer reviews and cost information.

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