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Family caregivers face increasing stress, health issues #ahcj15

About Ansley Stewart

Ansley Stewart (@ansleyestewart) is a student at the University of Georgia Graduate School of Journalism. She attended Health Journalism 2015 as a 2015 AHCJ-Academic Health Journalism Fellow.

Family caregivers of older adults are increasingly experiencing stress-related effects of caring for loved ones and may be putting their own health at risk, according to aging and policy experts on the Health Journalism 2015 panel, “Challenges Facing America’s Family Caregivers.” Experts cautioned that a widening “care gap” means fewer available family caregivers to meet future needs.

Most care for older adults is not provided by Medicare or Medicaid-reimbursed services; rather it is done through an informal network of family and friends – usually an adult daughter or daughter-in-law between 45 and 64. Lynn Friss Feinberg, M.S.W., senior strategic policy adviser at the AARP Public Policy Institute, said the “care gap,” or Caregiver Support Ratio, of potential family caregivers for each person over age 80 is a serious concern.

Those age 80 and above are most likely to need long-term services and supports. In 2010, there were more than seven potential caregivers for every person over 80; in 2030, the ratio is expected to drop to 4 to 1, and will decline to 3 to 1 by 2050. Feinberg pointed to family size and greater geographic diversity as the primary reasons. Continue reading