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Family Caregivers Provide Staggering $470 Billion in Unpaid Care According to AARP Study

New report reveals stress on family caregivers’ health and finances; identifies policies to help support caregivers

CONTACT:
Greg Phillips, 202-434-2560, media@aarp.org, @AARPmedia

En español | WASHINGTON, DC — Family caregivers in the U.S. provided 37 billion hours of care—worth an estimated $470 billion—to their parents, spouses, partners, and other adult loved ones in 2013, according to AARP Public Policy Institute’s new report, Valuing the Invaluable: 2015 Update. The total estimated economic value of this uncompensated care provided by the nation’s family caregivers surpassed total Medicaid spending ($449 billion), and nearly equaled the annual sales ($469 billion) of the four largest U.S. tech companies combined (Apple, Hewlett Packard, IBM, and Microsoft) in 2013. 

Family caregiving for relatives or close friends with chronic, disabling, or serious health problems so they can remain in their home is nearly universal today. In 2013, about 40 million family caregivers helped another adult loved one carry out daily activities (such as bathing or dressing, preparing meals, administering medications, driving to doctor visits, and paying bills).      

“Family caregiving today is much more complex, stressful, and costly for caregivers than ever before,” said AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins. “This new report shows some of the progress that’s been made to help caregivers, but we need to do much more in public policy, in the workplace, and in the health care system.”  

Family Caregivers in the Future

As Americans live longer and have fewer children, fewer family members will be available for older adults to rely on for everyday help in the future. The ratio of potential family caregivers to the growing number of older people has already begun a steep decline. In 2010, there were 7.2 potential family caregivers for every person age 80 and older. By 2030, that ratio will fall sharply to 4 to 1, and is projected to drop further to 3 to 1 in 2050.  

Impact of Caregiving on Jobs, Money, and Health

Family caregivers report that the stress of caregiving affects their physical and emotional health, finances, and their jobs.

  • More than half (55%) of family caregivers report being overwhelmed by the amount of care their family member needs.
  • Nearly 4 in 10 (38%) family caregivers report a moderate (20%) to high degree (18%) of financial strain as a result of providing care.  
  • In 2014, the majority (60%) of family caregivers had full- or part-time jobs.  

Strategies and Policies Needed to Help Caregivers

“Over the past four years since the last report came out, we’ve seen a number of new policies at the federal and state level that are improving awareness about family caregivers’ needs,” said Susan C. Reinhard, RN, PhD, Senior Vice President and Director, AARP Public Policy Institute, and lead author of the new report.. “We need multiple approaches to better help caregiving families, including such things as tax credits, improved workplace flexibility, respite care, home care services, and better training of family caregivers. Solutions to support family caregivers will need to come from both the private and public sectors.”

Valuing the Invaluable: 2015 Update” Methodology

The estimates in this report by AARP’s Public Policy Institute are based on a meta-analysis of 11 U.S.-based surveys of family caregivers conducted between 2009 and 2014. Estimates are based on about 40 million caregivers providing an average of 18 hours of care per week to a parent, spouse/partner, or other adult loved one, at an average value of $12.51 per hour. ‘Caregiver’ is defined as an adult age 18 and older providing care to a parent, spouse, or other adult loved one with their daily activities such as bathing or dress, preparing meals, and/or managing their finances, currently or within the last month.

Caregiving Resources:

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About AARP AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of nearly 38 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. We advocate for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services.  A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world's largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin; www.aarp.org; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en Español, a Spanish-language website addressing the interests and needs of Hispanics. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates.  The AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aarp.org.​

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MEDIA CONTACTS

If you are an AARP member and not with the press, call 1-888-OUR-AARP or email member@aarp.org.

 

For media inquiries, please contact the AARP Media Relations Office at (202) 434-2560 or media@aarp.org.

 

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