Denver, CO

Colorado caregivers are tired, can't afford more help, study shows

Claire Cleveland

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Adult daughter greeting elderly mother in a garden.Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels

By Claire Cleveland / NewsBreak

(Denver, Colo.) People who care for their aging parents or family members may be facing caregiver fatigue, according to a new study from Seniorly.

According to AARP, roughly one in six adults in the U.S. care for adult relatives over the age of 50 with illness or disabilities. In Colorado, 3.1% of households have multiple generations living together. In Hawaii, the number is much higher at just over 7%.

The pandemic only exacerbated caregiver fatigue, especially for people in the “sandwich generation” who care for their parents and children.

More than half of caregivers are employed full-time, and spend around 24 hours a week caring for others. The out-of-pocket costs for caregivers is about a quarter of household income, and even more so for Latinos who spend nearly 50% and African Americans who spend 34%.

If a caregiver hired someone to cover that 24 hours a week, it would cost around $41,808 a year. Colorado is the third most expensive state to hire caregivers, and a national nursing shortage complicates hiring. With about 13,993 nursing care workers per 100,000 seniors in the state; Colorado ranks No. 23 worst in the country.

While hiring care may not be financially feasible, there are ways for caregivers to get a break and recover, says Seniorly.

Consider respite care

Some senior communities offer short-term stays, which is a great way to “try out” senior living, and there are organizations that provide respite grants to help offset the cost.

Take advantage of technology

Smart home devices make it simpler to keep an eye on elderly loved ones at home. Services such as UberEATS and Instacart can take necessary errands off your hands; Gogo Grandparent helps seniors use smartphone apps, like Lyft or Uber, without a smartphone; and apps such as Genie MD and Caregiving App are specifically designed to help caregivers track tasks.

Investigate Medicare programs

Some states, like California, offer programs like Medi-Cal's In-Home Supportive Services. This program can help you pay for necessary care in your own home, like housekeeping, meal prep, laundry, and personal care like help with bathing and grooming.

Ask for help and be specific

Most people want to help their friends and family but don’t know how. If you are overwhelmed, it is critical to ask for help. Determine what needs to be done and assign people specific tasks.

Access Support Services

  • The National Family Caregiver Support Program provides grants to help keep older adults in their homes. Check your family’s eligibility.
  • Eldercare Locator is a national service from the U.S. Administration on Aging to connect families with services. Visit their website or call 1-800-677-1116 to speak with a specialist.

Family Caregiver Alliance is a nonprofit that provides services for caregivers of people with physical and cognitive impairments. The Alliance offers care planning and services, wellness programs, respite services and more.

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Claire Cleveland is a Denver-based freelance writer with a background in health and science reporting. She's covered the pandemic extensively and local news in Colorado. Previously, Claire was a reporter and producer for Colorado Public Radio.

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