Caregivers: An Unexplored DM Opportunity

More than 12 million Americans need assistance in order to carry out their everyday activities. Within the past year, one out of every four households has been involved in caregiving (caring for a family member or friend) for a person 50 or older. That translates to more than 54 million people who have provided caregiving within the past year for someone who is ill or disabled.

This number is growing dramatically. About 22 million households are currently involved in caregiving, and that number is expected to grow to 39 million within five years. If they had to pay for these services, the value would exceed $200 billion.

Ethnicity and culture are strongly correlated to caregiving. Nineteen percent of Caucasian, 28 percent of African-American, 34 percent of Hispanic and 42 percent of Asian households are caregivers. Of people age 70-plus who require care, Caucasians are most likely to receive help from their spouses, Hispanics from their adult children, and African Americans from a nonfamily member.

Historically, 75 percent of all caregivers were female, but the trend is changing, and today 44 percent of caregivers are male.

The majority of caregivers are ages 35 to 64, and three-quarters live in the same household. They assist with physical care, such as dressing, bathing, eating and other activities that are a part of daily life.

The duration of caregiving varies from less than a year to more than 40 years. The majority of people provide caregiving for four years, and 20 percent provide it for five or more years.

Caregiving and family income are inversely related. About a third of caregiving households have income of less than $30,000. About half of all caregivers for people age 50-plus are also employed full time, and many others work part time. Only 10 percent to 20 percent of family caregivers use formal services offered through public or private agencies. So these caregivers are under a tremendous burden.

The biggest problem among caregivers is the effect upon themselves. Caregivers often feel frustrated, sad and overwhelmed. About half become clinically depressed. Caregivers use drugs for depression, anxiety and insomnia two to three times as often as the rest of the population. Stress is inversely correlated to income: the lower the caregiver’s income, the more stress they are likely to experience.

A major chore for caregivers is transferring care recipients. A variety of disability products, such as an adjustable bed, a lift chair or an electric scooter, help to permit the care recipient to take over the responsibility for various chores, which unburdens the caregiver. This huge audience has a demand for home health products of all types: pharmaceuticals, assisted living facilities, insurance, incontinence products, mobility scooters, wheelchairs, walkers and a wide variety of other products.

Caregivers need to find other ways to reduce their burden. They may go out for dinner or to see a movie. They might join a health club or sit down and read a good book. One company has produced music specifically for caregivers, which promises to provide comfort and reduce stress for those who are helping people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

These are just a few of the opportunities that are available for direct marketers. Because the majority of caregivers are working full time, plus many more hours with the care recipient, they are perfect prospects for the convenience of mail-order buying.

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