Long-distance caregiving opens new market

Nearly 7 million Americans provide care or manage care for a relative or friend age 55 or older who lives at least one hour away, according to a study from the Washington, DC-based National Council on the Aging.

The study found that caregiving greatly impacts the productivity of caregivers, as well as their health and provides an opportunity for organizations that provide services for the elderly. Survey respondents were 200 long-distance caregivers identified through a national screening of 10,900 Americans. Long distance was defined as living an hour or more away from the elder. Results include the following:

• More than 50% of respondents reported caregiving interfered with professional, social, and family needs.

• The average caregiver reported traveling an average of four hours to reach the elder in their care.

• Caregivers reported spending an average of 35 hours each month giving care. 25% of caregivers reported spending more than 41 hours each month providing care.

• Twenty-five percent reported missing at least one day of work each month due to caregiving responsibilities.

• Seventy percent said they would benefit from educational materials about available services.

• Sixty-two percent said they would like someone to visit the elder for whom they provide care and update the caregiver about the elder’s mental and physical health.

[See: Wagner DL. Long-distance Caregiving for Older Adults. Innovations In Aging 1997; 26:6-9.]