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Finds One In Every Three Hispanic Households Has A Family Member Caring For An Older Loved One, USA

March 16, 2017

A study released today from UnitedHealth Group's Evercare® organization and the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) finds that more than one third of Hispanic households (36 percent) have at least one family member caring for an older loved one -a larger percentage than all U.S. caregiving households which is 21 percent (one in five), according to the Evercare Study of Hispanic Caregiving in the U.S. The study, the largest comprehensive look at Hispanic caregivers, also revealed that caregiving caused a major change to the working situation of Hispanics, which could have dramatic personal implications as the current fiscal crisis continues to unfold in the United States. Additionally, the emotional and physical tolls of caregiving might also impact the local and national economies, given that more than eight million Hispanics provide care to older loved ones nationwide.

The participants of the study indicated that additional resources and tools-in Spanish-are necessary to help them care for their loved ones. Seventy-three percent of Hispanic caregivers think it is very or somewhat important that caregiving information be provided in Spanish, with 56 percent who say it is very important. Eighty percent of Hispanic caregivers indicated training sessions that teach caregiving skills would be helpful, while more than seven in 10 would find online training in caregiving skills to be helpful.

Evercare, a leader in the fight against chronic illness, is dedicated to providing health care management and preventive care for the millions of Americans suffering with advanced or long-term illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer's disease. Through Evercare health plans, family caregivers are part of the primary care team led by Evercare Nurse Practitioners and Care Managers who help coordinate care and guide members to improve their health outcomes, remain independent, and live at home as long as possible. In addition, more than 500,000 working caregivers have access to Evercare™ Solutions for Caregivers, a caregiver services and support program provided through employers nationwide or on a private-pay basis.

"Family caregivers are an essential part of our health care system yet very often they need additional training and support for the critical role they play," says Ana T. Fuentevilla, M.D., Medical Director for Evercare/ Ovations National Support Team. "Understanding the specific cultural needs and issues of caregivers in the Hispanic community is an important part of how we design our specific health plans and services for our members. Through programs such as Evercare Solutions for Caregivers, we can help these caregivers maintain their own health and stay on the job."

The Impact of Hispanic Caregiving on the Workplace

Caregiving has also caused a major change to the working situation of many Hispanics. The study found that more than four in 10 Hispanic caregivers (41 percent) have changed their work situation either by cutting back on hours, changing jobs, stopping work entirely, or taking a leave of absence. This is compared to 29 percent among non-Hispanic caregivers.

In fact, two-thirds of Hispanics were employed at some point while they were caregiving (66 percent), whereas only 52 percent are currently working, a decline of 14 percentage points. Although the notable proportion of Hispanic caregivers who made major employment-related changes while caregiving might lead one to believe that they would be less satisfied with the balance between caregiving and work, they are actually more highly satisfied than non-Hispanic caregivers. Nearly half of Hispanic caregivers (47 percent) report being very satisfied with their home/work balance, compared to 36 percent of non-Hispanic caregivers.

Caregiving for Diabetes Patients Most Prevalent

The study found that diabetes afflicting their loved one is the top health condition for which Hispanics become caregivers - twice the number of those who said old age, cancer, or arthritis are the health conditions most affecting their care recipients. Diabetes in the Hispanic population is a growing concern, a 2007 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention national examination survey indicated that Mexican Americans are twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to be diagnosed with diabetes by a physician - and that they are 50 percent more likely to die from diabetes as non-Hispanic whites. Additionally, the Evercare/NAC Study found that 23 percent of Hispanics said their loved one also was suffering from Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia.

The Blessing and Burden Of Caregiving

The Evercare/NAC Study revealed that Hispanics spend 17 percent more time on caregiving than non-Hispanics do - 37 hours a week compared to 31 hours a week for non-Hispanics. Hispanic caregivers also perform more strenuous activities for their loved ones than non-Hispanic caregivers. In fact, Hispanic caregivers perform 17 percent more Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) including bathing, feeding, and other personal care tasks - than non-Hispanic caregivers.

However, while Hispanic caregivers provide more care, more than half reported little or no stress from caregiving. In fact, a significant number (35 percent) indicated that caregiving is not at all stressful - compared to 22 percent of non-Hispanic caregivers who reported the same. This is an important cultural finding given that more than four out of 10 Hispanic caregivers reported living with their loved one (compared to more than three out of 10 non-Hispanics who are co-residents) - a situation that in previous studies has typically increased caregiver stress levels.

More Hispanic Caregivers Fit the "Sandwich Generation" Profile A significant number of Hispanic caregivers (26 percent) are caring for two older loved ones at the same time. Additionally, among Hispanics, caregiving is most often performed by a female for an older female loved one while they are also caring for children under the age of 18 - the typical "sandwich generation" profile. In fact, in the Hispanic community, 53 percent fall into the sandwich generation versus only 34 percent of non-Hispanic caregivers. While Hispanic caregivers are predominately female (74 percent), they are also younger than non-Hispanic caregivers (on average 43 years of age, compared to 49 years of age for non-Hispanics).

Cultural Findings Among Hispanic Caregivers

The Evercare/NAC Study revealed that 84 percent of Hispanic caregivers believe that their role is a family obligation or honor and part of their cultural upbringing. In addition, 70 percent think that it would bring shame on their family not to accept their caregiving role, compared to 60 percent of non-Hispanics. Religion also plays a part in providing strength for Hispanic caregivers - 93 percent indicated that religion helps them deal with the role of caregiving, 83 percent of non-Hispanic caregivers agree.

"There's been an enormous explosion of media and policy attention being paid to family caregiving issues, " said Gail Hunt, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Caregiving. "I would hope that out of this Evercare/Alliance study, we would move beyond just awareness of the fact that there are Hispanic caregivers and that they need services, to actually developing the services that they need. Two of the services the Alliance feels are important are respite care and a caregiver assessment to help family members understand their needs as well as the needs of their loved one."

The full findings of the Evercare Study of Hispanic Family Caregiving in the U.S. can be found at AboutEvercare along with tips, resources, and other helpful information for caregivers in both English and Spanish. En Espanol: PlanesdeSaludEvercare.

About the Study/Methodology

The report is based primarily on 20+ minute telephone interviews with 1,007 Hispanic family caregivers and 209 non-Hispanic caregivers, conducted by Mathew Greenwald and Associates Inc., in August and September 2008. Respondents were given the option of conducting the interview in Spanish or English, and the majority chose Spanish. In addition, five focus groups were conducted with Hispanic caregivers in advance of the survey in Miami, Houston, and Los Angeles. Linda Naiditch managed the study.

The "definition" of family caregiver is someone age 18+ who has provided unpaid care to a relative or friend age 18+ in the last 12 months. The caregiver had to report helping the care recipient with at least one Activity of Daily Living (such as bathing, dressing, feeding, help with toileting, etc.) or Instrumental Activity of Daily Living (such as giving medications, grocery shopping, transportation to doctor's appointment, managing finances, and so on).

In the quantitative study, the Hispanic caregivers were reached through a nationwide sample targeting Hispanic surnames as well as random samples within specific geographic locations with high concentrations of Hispanics. Non-Hispanic caregivers were reached through a nationwide random sample. The questionnaire was designed to replicate some of the questions posed in prior national studies as well as to explore new areas.

The margin of error for the Hispanic caregivers is plus or minus approximately three percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. This means that 95 times out of 100, a difference of greater than three percentage points would not have occurred by chance. For non-Hispanic caregivers, the margin of error is plus or minus seven percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

Five focus groups were conducted March 11 to 13, 2008 - two in Miami, one in Houston, and two in Los Angeles. Respondents were all Hispanic family caregivers who spent at least four hours a week giving care, although most spent at least 15 hours a week as caregivers. They were recruited to represent a mix of ages and income levels, as well as to have a mix of relationships with their care recipient. All respondents were fluent in Spanish, and many could also speak English well. All but one of the groups was held in Spanish. The discussions focused mainly on assessing the needs of Hispanic caregivers, determining how they typically get information, and learning how best to reach them with information about caregiving. Questions explored their caregiving situation, their normal social and information networks, the sources of information they trust for health and caregiving, and service needs.

About Evercare

Evercare is one of the nation's largest health care coordination programs for people who have long-term or advanced illness, are older, or have disabilities. Founded in 1987, Evercare today serves more than 350,000 people nationwide through Medicare, Medicaid and private-pay health plans, programs and services - from health plans for people in the community and skilled nursing settings, to caregiver support and hospice care. Evercare offerings are designed to enhance health and independence, and in the complex world of health care, making getting care easier.

Evercare is part of Ovations, a division of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), dedicated to the health care needs of Americans over age 50. For more information, visit: AboutEvercare or en Espanol, PlanesdeSaludEvercare.

About the National Alliance for Caregiving

Established in 1996, the National Alliance for Caregiving is a non-profit coalition of more than 40 national organizations that focus on issues of family caregiving across the life span. The Alliance was created to conduct research, do policy analysis, develop national programs and increase public awareness of family caregiving issues. They also work to strengthen state and local caregiving coalitions and work on international caregiving alliances. Recognizing that family caregivers make important societal and financial contributions toward maintaining the well-being of those for whom they care, the Alliance's mission is to be the objective national resource on family caregiving, with the goal of improving the quality of life for families and care recipients.

National Alliance for Caregiving