CHICAGO, March 31, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Ready or not! This familiar childhood phrase that you hear called out during neighborhood games carries the same sentiment around what has become "the new normal" for 66 million1 Americans of all ages. You never know when you'll be called upon to provide care for a loved one--whether you're ready or not.
Because Americans are living longer today, the face of caregivers is changing. More of us are taking on this enormous responsibility at much younger ages. Not only is the face of caregiving changing, but also the responsibilities and type of care provided, and many Americans aren't ready.
In fact, findings from the Many Faces of Caregiving Study recently released by the national nonprofit Easter Seals through the support of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) showed one-third of the country's younger generations--Millennial and GenX--already identify themselves as caregivers.
"Supporting caregivers is at the core of everything Easter Seals is about – it's in our DNA," says Jed Johnson, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, Easter Seals. "Beyond providing services directly to people with special needs, Easter Seals has always been committed to providing supports and counsel to caregivers to let them know they aren't alone in what can be a challenging – yet rewarding – experience."
Perceptions vs. Realities
While there is a misconception that most caregivers provide care to loved ones due to a physical condition (e.g., limited mobility, use of wheelchairs, rehabilitation), the Easter Seals' Many Faces of Caregiving Study showed 77 percent of caregivers actually provide care for emotional or mental health conditions, memory problems or dementia.
In addition, we often think of caregivers as women, but the study also showed that just as many men as women are stepping up to provide care to loved ones.
Not Quite Ready
The majority of study respondents (70 percent) have not yet had the critical conversation with their families and loved ones about the future, as it relates to their life care planning. In addition, not even half (47 percent) of caregivers surveyed admit to being very satisfied with the care they are able to provide, reinforcing the need for continued support and education for all.
"There is clearly a need to increase efforts to help people understand the need for and to create a Life Care Plan," says John Chandler, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, MassMutual. "This is a topic of conversation we need to have earlier in life whether it be when people are in their 20s, 30s or 40s. It's never too early."
Caregiving looks different for everyone. Whether a young newlywed is taking care of her husband who was injured in war, a son or daughter taking care of aging or ailing parents, a sibling helping his or her brother or sister with Down syndrome, or a parent taking care of a child with autism or other disabilities, caregiving is pertinent to so many today.
"More than 42 million caregivers provide an estimated $450 billion in free, unpaid care annually to adults at any give point in time2," continues Johnson. "Easter Seals is here to support them as they make a tremendous contribution to their loved ones and our communities."
About Easter Seals
Easter Seals is the leading non-profit provider of services for individuals with autism, developmental disabilities, physical disabilities and other special needs. For nearly 100 years, we have been offering help, hope, and answers to children and adults living with disabilities, and to the families who love them. Through therapy, training, education and support services, Easter Seals creates life-changing solutions so that people with disabilities can live, learn, work and play. To learn more about Easter Seals and services in communities nationwide, visit www.easterseals.com.
Founded in 1851, MassMutual is a leading mutual life insurance company that is run for the benefit of its members and participating policyowners. The company has a long history of financial strength and strong performance, and although dividends are not guaranteed, MassMutual has paid dividends to eligible participating policyowners consistently since the 1860s. With whole life insurance as its foundation, MassMutual provides products to help meet the financial needs of clients, such as life insurance, disability income insurance, long term care insurance, retirement/401(k) plan services, and annuities. In addition, the company's strong and growing network of financial professionals helps clients make good financial decisions for the long-term.
MassMutual Financial Group is a marketing name for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) and its affiliated companies and sales representatives. MassMutual is headquartered in Springfield, Massachusetts and its major affiliates include: Babson Capital Management LLC; Baring Asset Management Limited; Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers LLC; The First Mercantile Trust Company; MassMutual International LLC; MML Investors Services, LLC, Member FINRA and SIPC; OppenheimerFunds, Inc.; and The MassMutual Trust Company, FSB.
1 Caregiving in the United States; National Alliance for Caregiving in collaboration with AARP. November 2009
2 Valuing the Invaluable: 2011 Update; The Growing Contributions and Costs of Family Caregiving; AARP Public Policy Institute
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SOURCE Easter Seals