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What’s the Value of Unpaid Caregivers? Billions of Dollars

The average caregiver is a middle-aged woman; however, support of the entire family is often needed to help care for a loved one

Typically, she is a 49-year- old woman who works outside of the home and spends nearly 20 hours per week providing unpaid care to her mother over the course of nearly five years.  Almost two-thirds of family caregivers are women and more than eight in 10 are caring for a relative or friend age 50 or older.  The support and services they provide are critical to aging adults remaining at home and in the community, but often comes at substantial cost to caregivers themselves, to their families, and to society.

In 2009, about 42.1 million family caregivers in the U.S. provided care to an adult with limitations in daily activities at any given point in time, and about 61.6 million provided care at some time during the year, reports AARP’s Public Policy Institute. The estimated economic value of their unpaid contributions was approximately $450 billion in 2009, up from an estimated $375 billion in 2007. If family caregivers were no longer available, the economic cost to the U.S. health care and long-term services and supports (LTSS) systems would increase astronomically. The report, “Valuing the Invaluable: The Growing Contributions and Costs of Family Caregiving, 2011 Update,” explains the contributions of family caregivers, details the costs and consequences of providing family care, and provides policy recommendations to better support caregiving families.


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