A new report by the USC Edward R. Royal Institute on Aging and USAgainstAlzheimer’s has found that a surprising number of millennials are caring for someone with dementia in the United States.
The report, “Millennials and Dementia Caregiving in the U.S.,” found that 1 out of every 6 millennial caregivers was caring for someone with dementia.
The study used dates from a previous caregiver study, “Caregiving in the U.S. 2015,” and pulled data pertaining solely to millennials – those born between 1981 and 1996. For the purposes of the study, millennial caregivers are defined as “persons between the ages of 18 and 34 years at the time of initial data collection who provide unpaid care to a friend or relative by helping with personal needs or household chores.”
Other key findings include:
- The average age of millennial caregivers is 27
- 86% did not live in the same household as the one they were caring for and 16% had to travel more than one hour to provide care
- 79% reported experiencing emotional distress
- 66% of millennial caregivers provided six months to four years of caregiving
- 42% said they were the sole caregiver
- 33% reported interference with works (i.e. being late, leaving early, taking time off)
- 14% had stopped working entirely
Millennial caregivers for people with dementia reported performing a variety of caregiving duties. These include:
- 79% providing assistance with transportation
- 76% assisting with grocery and other shopping
- 70% helped communicate with health care professionals
- 58% prepared meals
- 55% helped with managing finances
- 32% helped with bathing and taking a shower
- 30% helped with getting to and from a bathroom
- 25% fed their loved one
- 25% dealt with incontinence
Recommended Solutions for Millennial Caregiving Challenges
More than a physical strain, 18% of millennial caregivers reported a worsening of their own health and 52% expressed the need for information and support to manage their own stress.
María Aranda, associate professor and interim executive director at the USC Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging says, “Caregiving to family members with dementia can be a full-time job. Caring for the millennial caregiver is a societal investment with the potential of delaying family burdens and healthcare costs in the future.”
In that light, the report also outlines policy and programming recommendations for millennial caregivers:
- Better access to support groups tailored to meet the unique needs of the millennials and younger caregivers.
- Better communication with health care providers by increasing online communication platforms.
- The development of in-home medical services to lessen the transportation burden. This may include partnerships between ride-sharers and medical systems and using autonomous cars to connect caregivers to services.
- Working with companies to develop flexible work arrangements that would make for a better work-caregiving balance for millennials.
Are you a millennial caregiver? Does this report accurately represent you? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.