– Nearly two-thirds of the nation’s caregivers are using at least one mHealth or telehealth tool to manage their caregiving responsibilities, and roughly 40 percent are looking for more digital health solutions to improve care management.
“Wired for Care: The New Face of Caregiving in America” identifies a landscape where the average caregiver is now just 42 years of age, almost evenly split between men and women, and not trained or prepared to deal with the challenges of caring for a loved one at home. Half, in fact, are providing care for more than one person, and a quarter are caring for an adult while at the same time caring for a child under 18.
According to the report, roughly half of the nation’s caregivers are balancing full-time work with their caregiving duties – and half as well are taking care of someone with a health concern, such as an ongoing chronic or long-term condition or mental health concern. These challenges are cutting into their own life balance, affecting work, finances, vacation and hobby time, and emotional health.
Despite this, the report says today’s caregivers are “wired for care” – in that they know caregiving is a challenge but find satisfaction in that challenge. Some 35 percent say their responsibilities give them increased joy, compared to 24 percent who say those responsibilities add stress.
In this environment, today’s caregiver might find an unexpected ally: his or her boss.
In a companion survey, Cambia found that three out of every four employers are also caregivers themselves, and more than 60 percent are interested in offering digital health tools that would help those caregivers – understanding that those tools would likely increase worker satisfaction.
“While caregivers clearly want access to human experts, the majority of employers and employed caregivers report their company does not currently offer a tool featuring remote access to family health records or live human interaction,” the report notes. “Nearly 2 in 5 employed caregivers say having access to a tool that enables them to monitor health records remotely (43 percent) or connects them with a health and wellness professional who can answer questions and support caregiving activities (36 percent) would increase their workplace satisfaction.”
The barriers to adoption, meanwhile, are familiar: Roughly a quarter of caregivers surveyed have concerns about data privacy, and that same amount have concerns about the ease of use of the technology. Just as many caregivers surveyed said they’d be more comfortable with a platform that would allow them to speak to a live person, and about 20 percent said they were concerned about the cost of the technology.
The Cambia report sees employers as an avenue to improving mHealth and telehealth adoption at home, mainly by having them vet and recommend tools and technology that would help their employee caregivers.
“Employers have the opportunity to support their employees and positively impact their business by evaluating tools and services delivering leading edge technology and personalized support – especially when it comes to caregivers,” the report concludes. “Providing solutions backed by support and personalization can also help improve their employees’ work-life balance and overall job satisfaction.”