“This magic bullet will solve the special needs care crisis.” — no one
As a parent of a home-bound adult child with severe autism, I feel keenly the daily struggles of balancing the day-to-day responsibilities of a full-time job, parenting other children in the home and maintaining a healthy marriage. None of these is a higher priority than the other, yet they all scream to the be at the front of the line
In 2015, the AARP co-sponsored a study titled Caregiving in the US which provides a chilling look at both the current and future state of dependent care in the United States. The entire report is about 80 pages, but here are a few key statistics that should be scare, inspire and comfort those that live in this world every day.
Statistic #1: Over 43 million adults provide unpaid care to an adult or child.
Just to give context . . . California has 39 million people. Colorado has five million people. Combine the populations of both states, and that’s roughly the number unpaid caretakers.
Statistic #2: On average, caregivers spend 24.4 hours per week providing care to their loved one.
Here’s a very simple exercise to understand this. Open your calendar for the week. Block four random hours out of each day. Why random? People who need care don’t always live on a predictable schedule.
Statistic #3: Caregivers of a spouse/partner spend an average of 44.6 hours per week providing care.
Take your full-time job, and add another full-time job.
Statistic #4: Over 14 million caretakers have no help at all–paid or unpaid.
A population the size of Georgia and Kansas combined. They are completely on their own.
Statistic #5: Over four million caretakers are at least 75 years old.
Think about the frailty of the human body at that age, yet having to physically care for another adult’s physical needs. We’re talking a group that matches the population of Oregon.
I highly recommend at least skimming through this study. It’s deeply informative, yet powerfully moving. We’re on the cusp of a severe drought in the quality and quantity of special needs care. But we can make change and we can have impact now to dramatically improve the future of both children and adults with special needs, as well as the caretakers who invest so much of themselves in their lives.
That’s what this blog is about.