Adult Caregiving: A Labor Of Meaning And Happiness

“The more we genuinely care about others the greater our own happiness & inner peace.” – Allan Lokos

hand gesture depicting adult caregiving

Anyone familiar with Elmwood Hills Healthcare Center knows that caring for adults in need is a privilege.

But apparently this knowledge spreads well past New Jersey.

Adult Caregiving in the U.S.

According to the Pew Research Center, no less than 15% of Americans are adult caregivers. That means about 1 out of every 7 people are providing care for an adult in need for free.

They can be doing anything from helping adults bathe, dress, eat. Or they might be taking care of home and financial maintenance, medical care, and transportation. Basically, if it helps, it makes the list.

Details of Study

The Pew Research Center analyzed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics sponsored American Time Use Survey (ATUS). Most of the analysis was based on samples taken between 2012 through 2017.

From 2010 – 2013, the ATUS also administered the Well-Being Module. This measured the respondents’ ratings of their daily activities in 4 dimensions:

  • How meaningful they found the activity
  • Their level of happiness while doing the activity
  • How stressed they became doing the activity
  • The level of tiredness from the activity

Overall, the adult caregivers found close to half (47%) of their caregiving activities to be very meaningful. They also found 32 percent of their adult caregiving activities to make them very happy. On the other end, 5 percent of the activities made them very stressed and 8 percent were associated with being very tired.

Differences Among Adult Caregivers

A sub-population (24%) were adult caregivers who also provided care for their children. Although they reported being very tired and very stressed more in caring for the children, they also found it to be very meaningful (67%) and to be very happy (46%) more than when it came to adult caregiving (47% and 32%, respectively).

An interesting finding in the study was the role of the caregivers age. It seems that the older caregivers become, the more meaningful they find caregiving activities.

To demonstrate, caregivers between ages 18 – 29 found 29 percent of their adult caregiving activities to be very meaningful. In comparison, for adults between the ages of 45 – 59, the number was 53 percent. And the trend continued through all of the age groups. For 75-year-olds and up, a total of 82 percent of their adult caregiving activities were very meaningful for them.

Another noteworthy point is caregivers with disabilities themselves. Compared to other adult caregivers, the former spent 17 minutes more a day on their caregiving.

Obviously, there’s something special to learn from older, disabled adults when it comes to providing care.

What’s you experience with Adult Caregiving?

Please share in the comments below.