Landscape of Caregiving
Family caregivers are in crisis. More and more Americans – some 50 million by recent estimates – are taking on the role of caring for an older adult with illness or declining abilities. It’s a job performed with love, but one that is often bewildering and exhausting.
Moreover, the burden falls on people in the midst of busy lives. Roughly half are caring for their own children at the same time; 61% are employed and must take time off from jobs, sacrificing income and career prospects. The stress can be overwhelming, and for some it leads to health issues of their own, despair, and even thoughts of suicide.
Becoming a caregiver today can be a lonely journey that requires gathering and evaluating vast amounts of information for which there is no central clearinghouse, patching together a care system for their loved one with little guidance, adapting to ever-changing demands – and then trying to figure out who will pay for it all.
It needn’t be that hard. The fundamental problem, we believe, is that there is no central infrastructure in the United States to support aging adults and their unpaid caregivers. That is why the Stanford Distinguished Careers Institute, in partnership with Pivotal Ventures, launched the dciX Caregiving Innovations Project.
We set out to find ways of accelerating innovations for caregivers of older adults, identify roadblocks, and develop a caregiving solutions blueprint for others to use and build upon. Our goal is to catalyze fresh thinking and ignite a passionate, mission-driven community of innovators to help transform the concepts outlined in this report into actual resources, services, and businesses, with significant market impact.
We offer our findings as an open-source reference and innovation tool for all interested parties to use in developing a functioning Care Connector – a hub that will ease the caregiver’s journey at every step along the way. We envision this as a “one-stop shop” providing curated information and support, and connecting families with companies and organizations who are able to meet their needs. It will require creating a coalition of trusted partners, and ideally public-private partnerships.
This report provides a blueprint for an infrastructure to support America’s growing population of older adults and their families. Part I focuses on understanding the pieces of the puzzle: the complex, evolving needs of care recipients, the difficulties faced by caregivers, and the experience of companies in this space. Part II of this report brings the pieces of the puzzle together and outlines the seven essential components for a national hub that meets the needs of all stakeholders.
With innovation, investment, and information, we can create the infrastructure that families need and deserve.