WASHINGTON, DC — Family caregivers in North Carolina provided 1.19 billion
hours of care—worth an estimated $13.4 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 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 1.28 million family caregivers in North Carolina 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).
“This new report demonstrates that we need to do more to assist caregivers in our state,” said AARP North Carolina State Director Doug Dickerson. “Some of the things that will help family caregivers include improved workplace flexibility, respite care and the support of the state’s home care block grant services. Also as the North Carolina legislature searches for ways to control Medicaid spending, helping people avoid costly nursing home care helps lower what the state spends to support that care.
As North Carolina legislators push to finalize Medicaid reform, this is the perfect time to evaluate the value of family caregivers in keeping Medicaid costs down. Without family caregivers who help their loved ones maintain independence at home, many older adults would have no choice but to reside in costlier nursing homes leaving the state to foot the bill through Medicaid,” he said.
The State House has already passed a Study Bill (H816) to evaluate the needs of working family caregivers and their employers. AARP believes the Senate should move to finalize this bill as another step to helping control Medicaid costs while helping family caregivers balance their caregiving duties with their jobs and other family duties that must continue. Legislators should also acknowledge the economic benefit that family caregivers are providing to the state and pass legislation to authorizing workplace flexibility when those caregivers need to take a loved one to the doctor or handle other caregiving duties.
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
“AARP is deeply concerned about budget cuts to the state’s Home and Community Block Grant funding at a time when the demand for these services is rising. Supporting family caregivers is not only an investment in our health, it is an investment to grow the economy by helping people remain at work while they help provide the care that their loved ones require,” Dickerson added.
“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.
- 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