New report reveals stress on family caregivers’ health and finances; identifies policies to help support caregivers.
Family caregivers in Massachusetts provided 786 million hours of care—worth an estimated $11.6 billion—to their parents, spouses, partners, and other adult loved ones in 2013, according to AARP Public Policy Institute’s newly released report, Valuing the Invaluable: 2015 Update. The total estimated economic value of 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 844,000 family caregivers in Massachusetts helped an adult loved one carry out daily activities (such as bathing or dressing, preparing meals, administering medications, driving to doctor visits, and paying bills).
This new report demonstrates that we need to do more to assist the 844,000 caregivers in the Commonwealth. AARP strongly supports passage of the CARE Act legislation that is pending in the Massachusetts legislature." — AARP Massachusetts State Director Mike Festa
The CARE Act will recognize the critical role that family caregivers play in keeping their loved ones out of costly institutions by: (1) recording the name of the designated family caregiver when a loved one is hospitalized; 2) notifying the caregiver if a loved one is to be discharged; and 3) providing to the caregiver an explanation and live instruction of the medical tasks the caregiver will perform at home.
“Other supports that will help family caregivers include improved workplace flexibility, paying spouses as caregivers, and strengthening home and community-based services,” added Festa.
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 four to one, and is projected to drop further to three to one 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 percent) of family caregivers report being overwhelmed by the amount of care their family member needs.
- Nearly four in 10 (38 percent) family caregivers report a moderate (20 percent) to high degree (18 percent) of financial strain as a result of providing care.
- In 2014, the majority (60 percent) of family caregivers had full- or part-time jobs.
“Valuing the Invaluable: 2015 Update” Methodology
The estimates in this report by the AARP 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 dressing, preparing meals, and/or managing their finances, currently or within the last month.
- AARP Caregiving Resource Center
- Caregiving in the US: 2015 Report
- Home Alone: Family Caregivers Providing Complex Chronic Care (October 2012)
- The ABA/AARP Checklist for Family Caregivers: A Guide to Making It Manageable (2015)
- Amy Goyer’s ABA/AARP Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving (2015)
- AARP’s I Heart Caregivers Initiative