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Caregiving: An Overview

Today, nearly 100 million people in the United States have chronic conditions — from Alzheimer's disease to serious physical or developmental disabilities—and many of these conditions require 24-hour care. Further, a national survey conducted by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP estimates that 80 percent of all care received by older Americans is provided by family members, including spouses, children, grandchildren, or other relatives.

As America’s senior population continues to grow in size, more and more people are providing unpaid care to a loved one who is ill, disabled, or elderly. Caregivers provide assistance to their loved ones with either or both of two types of activities:

  • Instrumental activities of daily living (IADL), such as going to the grocery store or maintaining a bank account
  • Activities of daily living (ADL) such as bathing, dressing, and feeding.

For those loved ones who are being cared for, more than half live alone in their own home, an apartment, or a retirement community, while only 20 percent live in the same household as their caregiver. The remaining percentage of people lives with another family member or with a friend.

Providing care for a loved one can be a rewarding experience as you help a loved one in need maintain a comfortable quality of life. However, caregiving can also be very challenging, and in order to benefit you and your loved one, it is essential that you approach it armed with the proper knowledge and attitude.

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 8/27/2012...#9836