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“We are all just an accident away from the need for caregiving. We should all be holding those difficult conversations about what the options are, and what our preferences might be, for when the time comes.”

—Diana Ensign, Aging Insights

In 2005, 57 percent of Americans were providing unpaid care to an adult member of their families or to friends or have provided this care in the past. In the future, 66 percent believe that they will need to provide care to someone. The majority of caregivers are women. (Opinion Research Corporation, 2005)

You can find these and other facts about caregiving in the article Family Caregiving in America: Facts at a Glance at Strength for, which is part of the Caregiver Initiative that Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products Company developed.

Although a greater range of services and education are available for caregivers than in the past, a shortage of professional caregivers exists. Professional helpers are bound by funding rules to comply with regulations specifying hours and tasks. Their services alone may not be enough.

With the fastest growing segment of the population being people over the age of 85, you may be taking care of your parents when you are in your 70s. Or you may be trying to balance caregiving with holding down a job and maintaining a life for your family. You may live long distances from your parents. And you may face problems that are unfamiliar and find it hard to know where to turn for help when you need it.

When the need for care arises, you, other family members, and the recipient of the care must talk about all aspects of his or her situation and make plans. Good communication is the most critical requirement.


This section includes the following pages:

  • Dignity and Disaster - Ruth Anne Olson traveled to Bigonet, Haiti with a group from St. James Episcopal Church in Minneapolis and writes about the Haitians ability to maintain dignity even in the face of great need.

  • Strength-based Care Management - Defining your strengths can help you face the many demands and emotional upheavals of being a caregiver.
  • Caregiving Support Network - As a midlife adult, you may carry the weight of care for both your children and your parents while you are also employed full-time. You will need the support of a caregiving support network.
  • The Wisdom of Caregivers - Connie Goldman, the author of The Gifts of Caregiving and other books, provides insight into the learning and healing that can go along with caregiving.

Check our Additional Resources for more information