If you’ve ever wondered if your marketing strategy focuses heavily enough on caregivers, here are a few mind-blowing statistics to help you better quantify the size of this segment and the potential impact to new and recurring revenue.

More than 40 million Americans now provide care to help an aging parent, spouse, aunt, uncle, friend, or neighbor continue to live independently at home. Some 66% of older persons with long-term care needs depend exclusively on female family members and friends for assistance and about 75% of those female caregivers are also employed full-time outside the home. In fact, the average caregiver is a 49-year-old woman who works outside the home and provides 20 hours per week of unpaid care to her mother.

In addition, according to the United States Department of Labor, women broker about 80 percent of healthcare decisions for their families. Today, 40% of all births are to unwed mothers. Even in married households where both parents work, wives shoulder an estimated 75% of domestic responsibilities, including making and attending doctor’s appointments.

Divorce rates among seniors are skyrocketing. For those age 50 and above, divorce rates have doubled since 1990; for those age 65 and above the rates have tripled. In other words, daughters are often the ones influencing a Boomer man’s healthcare decision-making.

Often, the caregiver's relationship to the care recipient might look different than you'd expect. While you might be accustomed to the idea of the adult child/elderly parent caregiver relationship, that represents only 42% of the caregiving population. Here's a deeper look at what's actually going on:

  • 36% are caring for a spouse or partner
  • 14% are caring for a child
  • 3% are taking care of a sibling
  • 1% are supporting a grandparent
  • 4% fall into the “other" category

Those numbers are worth paying attention to, because according to the results of the NFCA/Allsup Family Caregiver Survey, the relationship to the care recipient crosses paths with multiple other factors in the caregiver's life, offering a peek into challenges that need to be understood by any interested healthcare marketer.

Marketers that seize the opportunity to engage female caregivers on a deeper level have a real and growing opportunity to drive profitable volume in a growing segment. Understanding the complex role these women play is crucial to develop products, services, campaigns, and content that will relieve the burden they face and enhance their perception of your brand as an advocate and trusted resource.

Insight Into Their Greatest Challenges
When you read stories about caregivers and their lives, you find not only illustrations of dedication and human relationship, but also ones that are largely defined by their unique issues.

Take for example the life of Alantris Muhammad, who became primary caregiver for her mother after a serious car accident. The incident threw her life into questions of retirement and career upset when she was barely past 40, likely adding to her description of her decision as “a sacrifice for [her] entire family."

Not only do many caregivers dedicate much more time to their role, they also report other challenges including feelings of isolation, worries about their employment situation, lack of paid support, and meeting monthly financial needs. Lack of respite care and personal health are also notable challenges.

Understanding the Complicating Factors
Let's take a deeper look at the complicating circumstances that caregivers face and that add real detail to their buyer personas.

While most do share similarities, their real-life experiences are going to be impacted by factors ranging from the reason for care to how quickly they entered into the caregiver role in the first place. For example, the day of someone in their fifth year caring for a loved one with advanced dementia will likely look different from a caregiver supporting a patient recently diagnosed with heart disease.

One of the most interesting revelations of the survey is the consistent difference in the amount of daily support given by caregivers who were thrown suddenly into the role vs. those who were able to evolve into it over time. In all categories of assistance provided for activities of daily living (ADLs) and Instrumental ADLs, caregivers who developed into the role slowly showed lower levels of assistance. Understanding how much support this group needs can help you know not only what kinds of messages they'll respond to but also what language will be most effective to elicit a response.

To be successful, gender-based marketing must walk a very thin line lest it be viewed as stereotypical and condescending. The majority of women feel misunderstood by marketers in all industries, and healthcare is no exception. Likely, this is because gender is often the primary demographic considered when crafting messages and creative for women. In reality, a woman’s socioeconomic status, age and life stage, and occupation all play roles in her decision-making and should all be important elements in program design.

Where Support is Most Requested
When caregivers were asked about the topics they're most actively curious about, a full 91 percent indicated that they were either “very" or “somewhat" interested in both caregiver mental health and legislative updates and policy. On the service end, help with Medicare plan selection, long-term care insurance, and assistance with SSDI claims topped respondent's interest list. You can use this information as a starting point, but you'll want to validate and enrich your plan with data as you go along.

Perhaps the most important takeaway from this is the understanding that caregiving isn't just a job, it's an identity. Most of the respondents saw themselves as caregivers for more than five years, but more importantly, even through all the challenges, the vast majority of people transitioning into this new identity relate fulfillment through the stress, life changes, and challenges.

Understanding these personas — role-based ones painted with emotional ups and downs, financial struggles, and indescribable rewards — is crucial to serving and supporting this growing and undeserved portion of society and connecting with them through a targeted healthcare marketing strategy.

Want more insight into healthcare marketing focused on the consumer experience? Download our guide to Healthcare Consumer Experience.