The State of Caregiving

By Scott LaFee

July 22, 2020 5 min read

Nearly 1 in 5 adults in the United States is an unpaid caregiver for an adult with health or other functional problems, up from 1 in 6 in 2015. Almost one-quarter of these caregivers are caring for more than one person.

These numbers come from a new AARP report. Other details:

— Twenty-six percent of caregivers say they're having difficulty coordinating care.

— Twenty-six percent are caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease or dementia, up from 22 percent in 2015.

— Twenty-three percent say caregiving has worsened their own health, up from 17 percent in 2015.

— Sixty-one percent of caregivers are also working.

Nursing Homes on Yelp

Nursing homes with positive Yelp reviews and high Medicare ratings tend to have lower rates of hospital readmission, according to new research published in JAMA Network. Rehospitalization can be a measure of the quality of care and the quality of life experienced by patients.

The study looked at 1,500 nursing homes around the country and found that those with the highest ratings had a rehospitalization rate 2% lower than facilities with the lowest ratings.

Nursing homes that ranked high tended to receive praise for staff attentiveness, a clean environment and the ability to manage pain well. One note: The study did not differentiate between rehospitalizations that were necessary versus those that could have been avoided.

Body of Knowledge

The woman depicted in the painting "Mona Lisa" had eyebrows, though the famous portrait shows none. At the time and place of the painting — Florence, Italy, during the 15th and 16th century Renaissance — women shaved off their eyebrows as a fashion statement.

Get Me That, Stat!

A survey by the American Cancer Society finds that 87% of cancer patients say the pandemic has affected their ability to get care, up from 51% in an April survey. Almost 80% of patients who are being actively treated reported delays, up from 27% in April.

Stories for the Waiting Room

A large study of more than 1.1 million patients in the Kaiser Permanente health care system in California found that older, richer patients are more likely to choose in-person doctor visits over telemedicine. Patients whose clinic had a paid parking structure versus free parking, and those who lived in residential areas with high internet access, were more likely to choose telemedicine.

Doc Talk

Xerostomia: dry mouth. (Dry skin is called xerosis.)

Mania of the Week

Eulogomania: obsessive interest in eulogies.


"I've had just about all I can take of myself." — American playwright S.N. Behrman (1893-1973) upon reaching the age of 75. He would live another quarter-century.

Medical History

This week in 1994, Rosanna Della Corte, a 62-year-old Italian woman, gave birth to a healthy son, Riccardo. Her egg was artificially inseminated by sperm from her 63-year-old husband at a fertility clinic in Rome. Della Corte had lost her only son at 17 in a car accident. She had tried repeatedly to adopt, but in vain. After giving birth, restrictions were introduced in the Italian legislature, and a papal encyclical, "Evangelium Vitae," condemned in vitro fertilization and other high-tech fertility procedures.


Q: On average, when does the human spinal cord stop growing?

a) 4 years old

b) 12 years old

c) 25 years old

d) It never stops.

A: The spinal cord is the long, thin, tubular structure of bundled nerves that passes through the vertebrae comprising the spinal column. The cord itself stops growing around age 4 (somewhere between 16 to 20 inches in length); the vertebral column continues to lengthen until adulthood.

Last Words

"Yeah, country music." — American jazz drummer Buddy Rich (1917-1987) when asked by a nurse before a surgical procedure if there was anything he "couldn't take."

To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: sabinevanerp at Pixabay

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