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Sharing personal stories of being an unpaid caregiver

July 19, 2023 |2 minute read time

Unpaid caregivers experience a complex blend of hardship and joy as they devote their time and energy to caring for their loved ones, increasingly often their elderly parents. The role of a caregiver encompasses many tasks, ranging from managing household chores, taking on financial obligations, preparing meals, as well as overseeing doctor’s appointments, medication administration, and ensuring overall health and safety. Data from CVS Health® and Harris Poll shows that women — mothers, daughters, sisters, nieces, friends and more — are more likely than men to be caregivers for adults. Healthy Communities speaks with three women — Khadija, Theresa and Nina — to learn more about the 24/7 responsibilities of an unpaid caregiver.

What the numbers tell us

The number of Americans aged 65 and older is projected to exceed 80 million by 2040, according to the spring 2023 Health Trends report from CVS Health, and a majority want to stay home even when they need care. In a recent article in U.S. World & News Report, Jamie Sharp, MD, Vice President and Medicare Chief Medical Officer for Aetna, a CVS Health company, notes, “The growth in America’s aging population and a shortage of professional caregivers means many people are sacrificing their health, hobbies and financial stability to provide unpaid care for their loved ones.” According to the spring 2023 Health Trends report, the need for home health aides will grow 25% between 2021 and 2031. But more than half of Americans (57%) say there are not enough professional caregivers, such as health aides and nannies, according to CVS Health and Harris Poll.

Our key takeaways

Caregiving for a loved one is difficult and can be overwhelming. However, unpaid caregivers witness the power of their care and compassion, transforming their own lives in the process and strengthening emotional connections with their loved ones. All three women in this episode speak to the power of family and community, and how sometimes you don’t recognize your own strength. Hilary Russo, our host, shares takeaways learned from her conversation with Nina: “Always make time for self-care, and if someone offers help, take it. And while it's difficult to be a caregiver, it can create the space for a new bond between you and the person you care for.”

Help for caregivers is available in your community:

  • Need help connecting with community resources? BenefitsCheckUp can help you discover local programs.
  • Find resources with a single phone call. Resources For Living offers service referrals to Aetna Medicare members.
  • Make managing multiple prescriptions easy. As a CVS Pharmacy® caregiver, you can manage your family's prescriptions online, in our app and at the pharmacy.
  • Looking for in-home care? Signify Health offers in-home health evaluations to members across the country.

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Tackling public health challenges with heart