The value of the care that family and friends provide to their loved ones with cardiovascular disease will more than double by 2035, from $61 billion in 2015 to $128 billion, according to a new report from the American Heart Association (AHA).
The study, published in the association’s journal Circulation, estimated the value of unpaid care provided by family and friends by analyzing data from a 2014 Health and Retirement Survey of adults age 54 and older and looking at the median wage for home health care workers. Researchers predict that when the value of informal caregiving is factored into the cost of medical care for heart patients, the total cost of cardiovascular disease care will reach $1.2 trillion by 2035.
The burden on family caregivers is likely to increase as their numbers shrink in relation to the growth in the aging population, according to AARP. In 2010, there were 7.2 potential family caregivers for every individual age 80 and older, but that ratio is expected to decline to 4 to 1 in 2030.
“The dramatic increase in projected costs of unpaid family caregiving for persons with heart disease underscores the urgency to develop a coordinated national strategy for family caregivers now,” says Lynn Friss Feinberg of the AARP Public Policy Institute.
Heart attacks and strokes occur more often as people age. With longer life spans, the number of Americans living with heart disease and stroke will rise to 131.2 million by 2035, or 45 percent of the U.S. population, according to AHA. “Understanding the escalating burden this will place on the family members and friends who care for these individuals is essential if we are to address this looming crisis,” AHA CEO Nancy Brown says in a news release.
AARP provides a host of resources to help families and caregivers.