Caregiving in the U.S. 2020: How Family Caregivers are Using Technology
While rewarding, being a caregiver can often feel isolating. However, you’re actually far from alone – there are now 53 million family caregivers in the U.S., up from 43.5 million in 2015, according to a recently released survey on Caregiving in the US 2020. The study found that, as a group, family caregivers face increasing difficulties: they are more and more time-starved, in poorer health, and increasingly emotionally and financially stressed – issues that have only been exacerbated as a result of COVID-19.
How are family caregivers coping? Caregivers are looking to technology as a way of easing the stress and strain of caregiving. Technology can not only help with some of the more everyday caregiving issues, but also provides support in bridging the social distance gap and maintaining continuity of care in light of COVID-19 and social distancing.
GreatCall partnered with National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and AARP on the Caregiving in the US 2020 survey, which is fielded every five years, to better understand how family caregivers are looking at technology. We set out to learn how technology is being used today and where there are opportunities for the future. Here’s what we found:
How are family caregivers using technology?
The Caregiving in the US survey found that 53% of caregivers have used technology to help with regular tasks. Younger caregivers between the ages of 18-49 that are taking advantage of technology in caregiving as they already do so in other areas of their lives. The majority of those tasks are centered around back-house items like finances and health records, and less on the actual caregiving. Other findings include:
- 32% of those surveyed have searched online for support services – and overall, 60% have done at least one task online to help with caregiving
- 19% have watched videos to learn a new caregiving skill
- Only 13% have used technology to check up their older family member’s using communication tools like wearable devices and video chatting
- The use of assistive devices, such as hearing aids or emergency call buttons, has had some traction, with 17% making use of these tools
While we know that technology has huge potential for and assistance providing stress relief to caregivers for everyday responsibilities, we also understand that certain barriers may stand in the way. What needs to evolve to make a difference in adoption? AARP research has shown that awareness – knowing that caregiver technology exists – is a key issue. And, for some, there may be questions around ease of use or affordability. This is why the technology questions were included in this year’s study for the first time – so together we can look at ways to provide the kind of support needed to impact the stresses family caregivers are facing.
What steps can we take to better incorporate technology into caregiving?
The key to alleviating some of that stress lies in breaking down these barriers to technology. Family caregivers need education and training options on what type of technology best meets their needs, their financial options, and their style of care. To learn about what technology works best for you and those you care for, take the time to think about what you would most benefit from. Maybe it’s a device that helps with reminders on medication management, or a wearable device so you know that your older family member is staying safe when you’re not around. Once you have identified what would be most helpful, you can narrow down the options and find the solution that will work for you. Most products come with instructional tools, videos and even personal operators to help you get up to speed the tools that make your life easier.
By eliminating these barriers, you will be better prepared to get the support you need from technology. With access to the right solutions and tools, you can keep care recipients better connected, safe, and independent, while also reducing stress and gaining peace of mind for yourself. After all, you need care too. Start by thinking about what will make a difference in your life.