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Chartbook on Women and Disability

Section 6: Women, disability and aging

6.7. Who provides care for elderly people with disabilities?

Disability and aging are women's issues, not only because women are more likely to become disabled as they grow older, but because women provide most of the informal (unpaid) caregiving for people with disabilities.

In 1996, 15% of adults were estimated to be providing care to family members who were seriously ill or had a disability. From 1987 to 1996, the number of households that provide informal care to adults over 50 more than tripled, from 7 million to 22.4 million (National Alliance for Caregiving, 1997). Women have consistently been the primary caregivers. In surveys conducted in 1982 and 1996, approximately three-quarters of these informal caregivers were women (Hoffman & Rice, 1996; House of Representatives Select Committee on Aging, 1988; National Alliance for Caregiving, 1997).

Women represent three out of every four caregivers for older people with chronic health conditions.

Pie chart. Go to Data Table for Figure 32 for the data values shown in this chart.

Figure 32: Gender of people who provide care to older people with chronic health conditions

Data Table for Figure 32

Source: National Alliance for Caregiving (1997)

Surveys: National Alliance for Caregiving Survey, 1996

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