Potential and Active Family Caregivers: Changing Networks and the ‘Sandwich Generation’

Authors


Brenda C. Spillman The Urban Institute, 2100 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20037 (bspillma@ui.urban.org).

Abstract

Informal family care giving has been a traditional mainstay of care for the frail elderly. As the Baby Boomers approach retirement and old age, it is not clear that society can continue to rely on informal arrangements. The 1984 and 1994 National Long Term Care Surveys were used as sources for examining changes over a decade in the population of chronically disabled elderly, their sources of care, and the characteristics of family caregivers. The results showed that although the total number of active family caregivers declined, a constant number of primary caregivers was looking after recipients who were more severely disabled. Members of the ‘sandwich generation’ and full-time workers maintained or even increased their participation as primary caregivers. The competing demands confronting these caregivers and the higher disability levels among care recipients probably contributed to the growing pattern of reliance on formal care, a situation that is likely to continue.

Ancillary