Glimpse of Family Caregivers’ Context: Actual time vs. Desired time for Care

October 4th, 2019
Understanding and Measuring CareSouth Korea

Attitudes towards family care are changing. Only 27% of Koreans surveyed in 2018 agreed that the family is responsible for elderly family member care. As for population aging, the middle age group of Korean society is becoming a true “Sandwiched Generation” (supporting both unmarried children and elderly parents) due to the longevity increase among elderly parents and postponement of marriage among the young generation. In addition, caring for grandchildren by the young elderly group is becoming more prevalent as the number of employed married women has increased in recent decades. To respond to this family burden, Long Term Care Insurance for the Elderly (LTCI) has been expanded since 2008. Statistics of the LTCI program show a stiff increase in care provision for supporting the daily lives of elderly who suffer from physical and mental ailments.

Cha & Moon (2019) investigate the nature of family care in the context of expanding public care provision. Using the 2018 Family Survey for Child and Elder Care, the authors assess the role of family care and how family members take part in the changing elderly care process. Family caregivers spend, on average, about 8 hours a day providing care to elderly family members on caring days, or about 50 hours a week. However, the average preferred number of hours for care is 24 hours per week, almost half of the actual care hours. Those who are classified as mildly or severely over-caring tend to live with their elderly family member, partly because the elder family member has a severe limitation in their Activities of Daily Living (ADL) and is unlikely to spend more than 3 hours per day alone.

On the other hand, care givers whose hours matched their desired hours are relatively young and the employment rate is higher than among other types. Compared to this matched case, over-caring is more common when attentiveness is required, when the caregiver perceives the necessity to take on greater responsibility for the elderly care recipient, and when time consuming care tasks are needed to care for the elderly family member. The authors speculate that the different types of care arrangements—under-caring, matched, and over-caring—appear to represent the sequential process of elderly care, from making regular care-visits to constantly ‘being there’ next to the recipient.

This paper will be available December 2019.

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