DTC marketers can’t forget caregivers

UnknownA recent study looked at participants aged 50 to 61, more than 5,100 people, roughly a third of them family caregivers. About 4 percent were caring for a spouse, 15 percent for a grandchild and about 20 percent for a parent; some took care of more than one relative.  As in virtually every other study, women were more likely to care for parents. Seven percent of the total sample assisted with parents’ personal needs, compared to 3.6 percent of men. Close to 16 percent of men helped parents with chores, errands and transportation, while more than 20 percent of women did. Gender differences did not arise much between those caring for spouses or grandchildren.  However it seems most digital marketing efforts are targeted at new patients rather than caregivers.

According to the NY Times article gender made a significant difference in employment, however. Most of these middle-aged adults were in the labor force, meaning that they had jobs, were unemployed but looking for work, or had recently taken sick leave or been laid off.  But where do caregivers turn to when their stress levels reach a critical boiling point and who is looking out for their health ?

I have extensive experience in being a caregiver.  My dad was in an Indiana nursing home while I was trying to get ready for the huge launch of a brand and although he was well cared for he would call me 3-4 times a day with requests for groceries or take-out food.  I would usually be at my desk by 7:00AM to start work and tried to leave at 3PM so I could visit my dad and see to his needs but when you’re trying to get a major website approved by two different MLR teams the logistics could be challenging to say the least.  I lost my appetite during this time from the stress of my job and taking care of my father and my health suffered.  In addition I struggled to find a balance between having a life, doing my job and taking care of my dad.  Believe me it’s not easy.


New reports that the number of Alzheimer’s cases in the USA will likely triple to 13.8 million by 2050 are raising concerns about the nation’s ability to afford care. Care for patients with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia will increase 500% by 2050, reaching $1.1 trillion, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. This is in 2012 dollars. About 70% of costs for Alzheimer’s care are billed to Medicare and Medicaid.​​  But where are the statistics that show the impact of caregivers on the labor force ?


A caregiver is an unpaid individual (a spouse, partner, family member, friend, or neighbor) involved in assisting others with activities of daily living and/or medical tasks. Formal caregivers are paid care providers providing care in one’s home or in a care setting (daycare, residential, care facility, etc).
Who are the Informal Caregivers?

Although there may appear to be wide discrepancies in estimates of the number of informal caregivers in the U.S., the figures cited below reflect variations in the definitions and criteria used in each study, e.g., age of care recipients surveyed or relationship of caregiver to care recipient.


65.7 million caregivers make up 29% of the U.S. adult population providing care to someone who is ill, disabled or aged.
[The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP (2009), Caregiving in the U.S. National Alliance for Caregiving. Washington, DC.] – Updated: November 2012

52 million caregivers provide care to adults (aged 18+) with a disability or illness.
[Coughlin, J., (2010). Estimating the Impact of Caregiving and Employment on Well-Being: Outcomes & Insights in Health Management, Vol. 2; Issue 1] – Updated: November 2012

43.5 million of adult family caregivers care for someone 50+ years of age and 14.9 million care for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia.
[Alzheimer’s Association, 2011 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, Alzheimer’s and Dementia , Vol.7, Issue 2.] – Updated: November 2012


LGBT respondents are slightly more likely to have provided care to an adult friend or relative in the past six months: 21% vs. 17%.
[MetLife: Still Out, Still Aging 2010. Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Baby Boomers] – Updated: November 2012

Economic Value

Caregiver services were valued at $450 billion per year in 2009- up from $375 billion in year 2007.
[Valuing the Invaluable: 2011 Update, The Economic Value of Family Caregiving. AARP Public Policy Institute.] – Updated: November 2012

The value of unpaid family caregivers will likely continue to be the largest source of long-term care services in the U.S., and the aging population 65+ will more than double between the years 2000 and 2030, increasing to 71.5 million from 35.1 million in 2000.
[Coughlin, J., (2010). Estimating the Impact of Caregiving and Employment on Well-Being: Outcomes & Insights in Health Management, Vol. 2; Issue 1] – Updated: November 2012


With all this information DTC marketers need to ask their teams a simple question “what about caregivers?”.  As a caregiver I had a big say in the treatments my father received and before making decisions I would research the pro’s and con’s of each medication.  I wanted to know what it would do for my dad but also I wanted to know how it might potentially effect the level of care he received.

DTC marketers need to develop in depth online resources including support groups so people can learn from one another and share information for at its heart that is still the strength of the Internet.

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