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I Don't Want to Be a Statistic!

Are you one of those people who hates statistics? Do you mentally shut down when forced to read your latest 401K update? Slump deeper in your seat when your professor starts asking questions about the sample mean, median, and standard deviation? Develop a sudden urge to take out the trash when someone on cable news starts droning on about the GNP, the GDP, the S&P, the …?

That’s me! I hate statistics.

But despite my hatred for anything with a percent sign, bar graph, or arrow attached to it, I recognize the value of statistics. For the most part, statistics don’t lie. Statistics cut through the assumptions, the hunches, the feelings, the “maybes” to give you the cold hard facts on a topic under study.

Caregiving an elderly loved one – with or without a challenging personality – has lots of statistics. Just a couple of the “standard” ones:

  • Family members in the U.S. provide unpaid care totaling $470 billion in value

  • 65% of care receivers are female

  • More than 50% of caregivers die before the person they are caring for

These are depressing statistics. Just one more reason to avoid statistics!! (Although that caregiver mortality statistic? I probably need to contemplate that one! After all, I don’t want to be a statistic. Especially that one!)

But then I found another one, an even better one, courtesy of AARP (American Association of Retired Persons, age 50 and up). Its 2015 survey of 1,600 Arizona residents ages 45-plus revealed that “Arizona’s Average Family Caregiver is:

  • Female

  • Age 61

  • Cares for a loved one age 70 or older

Hmm…female. Check. Age 61. Check. Cares for a loved one age 70 or older. Check. Obviously lives in Arizona. Check.

Check, check, check, and check. The light bulb goes on.


Now I have to say that I like to think I am an ABOVE-AVERAGE person, not to mention caregiver, but I guess for statistical purposes I will just have to accept this description of “average.”

I will admit that it’s somewhat intriguing to be memorialized, so to speak, as the face of the “average” Arizona caregiver. But other than that, what does this statistic really mean? It’s an interesting factoid for me personally, but probably doesn’t mean much to anyone else.

OK, then, here’s just one more statistic - last statistic, I promise! – that might have a little more meaning.

About 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the last 12 months (thank you, National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP). Of course, as people age and live longer, that number is only expected to grow.

I’ll say it again. I don’t want to be a statistic! I hate statistics!

I think I’ll go take out the trash.

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