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Number of family caregivers on the rise, study says

June 25, 2013

As the number of adults over the age of 65 continues to grow, the ramifications are being felt in a variety of different ways, and that includes the number of family members taking on caregiver roles. A new study from the Pew Research Center and the California HealthCare Foundation found that approximately 39 percent of adults performed caregiving tasks in 2012, which is up from 30 percent just two years before.

There are a number of reasons for the steep increase of family caregivers, and the growing number of seniors is just one part of the equation. Improvements to medical treatment have allowed seniors to manage chronic conditions for longer stretches of time. Not only that, but there are more resources available to family members that allow them to be familiar with the illnesses their loved ones are facing. 

"As a chronic illness progresses, family members step in to help out," Denise Brown, founder of the support site, told Reuters Health. "There's a better understanding of the progression of the disease than the practitioner because they live with it."

Although the number of family caregivers is on the rise, these results also suggest there may be an increasing need for services such as assisted living and memory care. In fact, in 2012 an estimated 9 million Americans required some form of long term care, and that number is expected to grow to 12 million by 2020.