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Caregiving is largely a woman's job. Still.

December 10, 2009 |  6:03 pm

Hands A new survey paints a portrait of people who make life infinitely better for those who can't take care of themselves and, by extension, everyone else: family caregivers.

The generalities won't be a surprise -- who's doing the caregiving (women mostly), conditions requiring care (old age and dementia) and the ultimate effects on the caregivers (over time, an increasing health toll). But, as always, the specifics are illuminating.

Among the findings of the report from the National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP, together with the MetLife Foundation:

- The average caregiver's age is 48.

- One-third of caregivers take care of more than one person.

- Caregivers have had this role for an average of 4.6 years.

Here's the executive summary. And the full report, with details on caregivers' daily lives and the circumstances under which they keep those lives together.

For caregivers looking for a bit of support, there's Family Caregiving 101. It begins with a Top 10 Questions list of frequent queries...

(Of note, Families for Depression Awareness offers "Caring for a depressed elderly parent" among its list of podcasts.)

And don't forget the National Family Caregivers Assn., the Family Caregiver Alliance and, of course, the National Institute on Aging.

Each offers resources, information and the reassurance that, though it may seem so, caregivers are not alone.

-- Tami Dennis

Photo credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

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