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Bureau of Labor Takes Note of Elder Care Provided by Families

Senior woman on couch with her adult daughter

Each year since 2003, the U.S. Department of Labor has released the results of the American Time Use Survey. This report, created by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), has described the average amount of time individuals spend in various activities, such as working, household activities, child care and leisure activities.

This year, for the first time, the report also includes information on family caregivers and the time they spend caring for older relatives. BLS defines elder care providers as "those who provide unpaid care to someone over the age of 65 who needs help because of a condition related to aging."

Here are some key questions the survey sought to answer:

Q: How many family elder care providers are there in the U.S.?

A: Sixteen percent of the U.S. civilian population age 15 and older serve as an elder care provider. This equals 39.8 million people.

Q: How many of these are men and how many are women?

A: The breakdown: 56 percent of these family caregivers are women; 44 percent are men.

Q: What age group provides the most senior care hours?

A: Individuals ages 45 – 64 provide the most care, followed by those aged 65 and older.

Q: For whom are they providing care?

A: Forty-two percent of caregivers are providing care for a parent; 19 percent are caring for a grandparent; 20 percent care for another related person; and four percent are caring for a spouse.

Q: Where does care take place?

A: Eighty-five percent of care is provided to a person who does not live with the caregiver; 13 percent is provided for people who live with the caregiver.

Q: How many "sandwich generation" caregivers are there—those who are providing care for an elderly loved one while minor children still live at home?

A: Twenty-three percent of the elder care providers also were the parents of one or more children under age 18 who live with them.

Q: What tasks are these elder care providers performing?

A:  The Bureau reports that elder care can involve a range of care activities, such as assisting with grooming, preparing meals and providing transportation. Elder care also includes providing companionship and being available to assist when help is needed.

These numbers are expected to grow along with our nation’s senior population. As the baby boomers age—10,000 turn 65 every day—more and more family members will be called upon to provide unpaid care for them. The survey’s new concrete data is a welcome step in recognizing the important contributions of family caregivers and understanding the support they will need as they serve as a vital component of our nation’s elder care system.

Find the complete data from the American Time Use Survey on the website of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 


Right at Home, Inc. is a national organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for those we serve. We fulfill that mission through a dedicated network of locally owned, franchised providers of in-home care services. 

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