Family Caregivers are Wired for Health

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And nearly 40% of us are caregivers.

The Pew Internet and American Life Project just published a great article saying that nearly 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. are caring for an adult or child with significant health issues, up from 30% in 2010. That’s 9% in three years, though the survey questions appears to have been asked in 2012. http://goo.gl/q1qdZ

Caring for a loved one is an activity that cuts across most demographic groups, but is especially prevalent among adults ages 30 to 64, a group traditionally still in the workforce.

This is an excellent article that points to the reality that many of us know. Whether it’s a child with asthma or a parent with COPD, many of us are caregivers in our or a loved-one’s home. There’s a strong notion that we as a nation, a national community, are less connected than before. This paints a different story than that. While the use of current digital technology can lead one to be more isolated, this same technology can give tangible healthcare and social safety-net assistance.

Now, some points from the article.

Being a caregiver is independently associated with key health-related activities. When controlling for age, income, education, ethnicity, and good overall health, caregivers are more likely than other adults to:

  • Gather health information online, particularly about medical problems, treatments, and drugs.
  • Gather health information offline, from clinicians, friends, family, and others who share the same health condition.
  • Go online to find others with similar health concerns (again, there may be dual motivations to connect — to find more information about handling caregiver stress, for example, or about their loved one’s health challenges).
  • 39% of caregivers manage medications for a loved one, such as checking to be sure pills are taken properly or refilling prescriptions. Just 7% of caregivers use online or mobile tools, such as websites or apps, to do so.
  • 39% of caregivers manage medications for a loved one, such as checking to be sure pills are taken properly or refilling prescriptions. Just 7% of caregivers use online or mobile tools, such as websites or apps, to do so.
  • While 8 in 10 internet users say they have researched a general product or service online, only 2 in 10 internet users have looked up health care reviews.

There is a lot to this article that’s very telling about the nature to this side of American healthcare. We groan and moan about the system, and for good reason, but this family side of current care is hardly mentioned at all in the national discussion.

Per the usual excellent job Pew Research does, their work provides us with a way to explore the survey questions.

They’ve got nicely done infographics (which, from what I’ve seen online recently, seems to be rare) that lays some of the key findings out in graphical form.

 Pew Research

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