“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,” according to the AARP Public Policy Institute’s July 2011 update. (See Valuing the Invaluable: 2011 Update The Growing Contributions and Costs of Family Caregiving, p. 1, Lynn Feinberg, Susan C. Reinhard, Ari Houser, and Rita Choula. AARP Public Policy Institute: 601 E Street, NW Washington DC 20049.)
The estimated economic value of their unpaid contributions was approximately $450 billion in 2009, up from an estimated $375 billion in 2007. The report also explains the contributions of family caregivers, details the costs and consequences of providing family care, and provides policy recommendations to better support caregiving families.
Family support is critical to remaining in one’s home and in the community, but often comes at substantial costs to caregivers themselves, to their families, and to society. 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.
When unpaid family caregivers become less available due to changing family demographics, imagine the battles in Washington over how to fund long-term care for the legions of elderly without LTCi!