According to a Pew Internet Tracking survey, 39% of U.S. adults  cared for a loved one in the last year, involving help with hygiene, personal needs, household tasks, finances, or simply visiting.

  • 36% of U.S. adults care for an adult or multiple adults.
  • 8% of U.S. adults care for a child with a medical, behavioral, or other condition or disability.

Note that almost four in every ten adults in the U.S. are caring for a child or adult with significant health issues.  This is a 9% increase in the last 2 years.  Caring for a loved one is an activity that cuts across most demographic groups, but is especially prevalent among adults ages 30 to 64, a group known as “the sandwich generation” because they are caring for their children and their parents or older relatives.  Typically they are still working as well.

Caregivers are now predominantly  technology users. They are going to many online health sites to gather or seek information.  They are going into forums and chat rooms to confer with others in the same situation, asking for advice.   They are even connecting online with physicians caring for their loved ones through patient portals connected to the electronic health record systems.   Caregivers are more apt than other online users to participate in a myriad of health-related activities when taking the following variables into consideration:

  •  age
  • income
  • level of education
  • ethnicity
  • good overall health

Figure 1_Health activities

The results reported here come from a nationwide survey of 3,014 adults living in the United States.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project is an initiative of the Pew Research Center, a nonprofit “fact tank” that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. The Project is nonpartisan and takes no position on policy issues. Support for the Project is provided by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Do you find yourself in the position of being a care giver?  Which online sites have you been visiting to accomplish your goals?  Share this in the comment box below.