More than 43 million Americans currently act as unpaid caregivers for family members and others aged 50 and older, but finding and coordinating the resources to provide for all of their needs can be difficult. Jumping into that void this week are two new services that aim to make caregiving less stressful.
AARP and Genworth, the financial services firm, have teamed up to offer a new service aimed to provide caregiving support services for members. The program will combine caregiving assessments, assistance for care planning and will give users access to databases to match providers. It includes free access to one of the largest long-term care databases in the world, with more than 90,000 providers, including public programs, to help people search for caregiving resources by location and type.
Registered visitors to the website, including AARP members, can search the nationwide database to find local providers, rate caregiving providers, access supporting information to help in their decision making, and sign up for an e-newsletter. The long term care database is available to AARP members and to the general public at Genworth.com/caregiving, AARPhealthcare.com and AARP.org.
AARP members can access additional services, both paid and free, through AARP Caregiving Help and Advice from Genworth. For free, AARP members registered at Genworth.com/caregiving can compare nursing homes' Medicare star ratings and see which home care agencies are part of Genworth’s provider programs. AARP members can purchase four service plans -- Web Advisor, Phone Advisor, In-Home Advisor and Service Finder -- created by Genworth.
"As baby boomers age, most will serve, and often struggle, as unpaid caregivers to a family member or friend, often unsure of where to turn for help," said Dr. Bruce Margolis, Medical Director at Genworth, in a statement. "This innovative relationship with Genworth gives AARP members and their families access to personalized caregiving information and resources that focus on empowering caregivers."
Separately, Jonathan Schwartz, former CEO of Sun Microsystems, launched Carezone, a private information-sharing hub for caretakers. The cloud-based service assembles key contact details, patient information such as blood type, medical instructions, and other notes in one place. Users can also upload medical records, documents or other information essential in an emergency. Users pay $5/month and the information will not be shared with advertisers.
“Others may be around [the person you care for], and you want them to have access to the same information that you have,” Schwartz told Mashable.com. Users can provide as many loved ones and caregivers with access to their information as they choose, but only by invitation.
Caregiving is a burgeoning issue as the population ages and becomes more frail. AARP and The National Alliance for Caregiving studied caregivers in 2004 and again in 2009. In that time, the average age of the care recipient rose from 66.5 years in 2004 to 69.3 for those taking care of adults. Care recipients ages 75 or older jumped from 43 percent in 2004 to 51 percent in 2009. Caregiving, especially over the long-term, can take a toll: One in five people who provided care for five or more years said caregiving has had a negative impact on their own health. It also hurt economically and socially: 12 percent said they had to work fewer hours or take a less demanding job; 9 percent had to quit work altogether; and 53 percent said caregiving took time away from friends and other family members, adding to stress.
Caregiving responsibilities also take a larger economic toll, according to a recent report by Gallup, sponsored by Pfizer/ReACT (Respect A Caregiver's Time). Workers who are also caregivers miss an average of 6.6 days of work each year because of their responsibilities, equating to a loss of productivity of more than $28 billion.