National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Portrait of American Caregivers

December 9, 2009

According to a new report, Caregiving in the U.S. 2009, nearly one-third of the American adult population serves as a family caregiver. The study is based on interviews with 1,480 caregivers chosen at random and offers a national profile of people caring for adults, the elderly and children with special needs.

Notable findings include:

  • One in seven caregivers provides care, over and above regular parenting, to a child with special needs.
  • Caregiving lasts an average of 4.6 years.
  • Caregivers provide an average of 20 hours of care per week.
  • The main reasons people need care are old age (12%), Alzheimer's disease (10%), mental/emotional illness (7%), cancer (7%), heart disease (5%) and stroke (5%).
  • IIlnesses/problems for which children need care are led by ADD/ADHD, autism, mental/emotional illness and developmental delay/mental retardation.
  • Caregivers of children provide the most time-intensive care.

NAMI also has reported on the lived experiences of caregivers for loved ones living with mental illness in a depression survey and a schizophrenia survey.

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