More than 50 million people provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend during any given year.
The typical family caregiver is a 46-year-old woman caring for her widowed mother who does not live with her. She is married and employed. Approximately 60% of family caregivers are women.
1.4 million children ages 8 to 18 provide care for an adult relative; 72% are caring for a parent or grandparent. Fortunately, most are not the sole caregiver.
30% of family caregivers caring for seniors are themselves aged 65 or over; another 15% are between the ages of 45 to 54.
17% of family caregivers are providing 40 hours of care a week or more.
The value of the services family caregivers provide for "free" is estimated to be $306 billion a year. That is almost twice as much as is actually spent on homecare and nursing home services combined ($158 billion).
The need for family caregivers will increase in the years ahead. People over 65 are expected to increase at a 2.3% rate, but the number of family members available to care for them will only increase at a 0.8% rate.
Economics of Caregiving
"Women who are family caregivers are 2.5 times more likely than non-caregivers to live in poverty and five times more likely to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI)."
Caregiving families (families in which one member has a disability) have median incomes that are more than 15% lower than non-caregiving families. In every state and DC the poverty rate is higher among families with members with a disability than among families without.
Out of pocket medical expenses for a family that has a disabled member who needs help with activities of daily living (eating, toileting, etc.) are more than 2.5% greater (11.2% of income compared to 4.1%) than for a family without a disabled member.
In 2000 typical working family caregiver lost $109 per day in wages and health benefits due to the need to provide full time care at home.
Impact of Caregiving
Elderly spousal caregivers with a history of chronic illness themselves who are experiencing caregiving related stress have a 63% higher mortality rate than their non-caregiving peers.
Stress of family caregiving for persons with dementia has been shown to impact a person's immune system for up to three years after their caregiving ends thus increasing their chances of developing a chronic illness themselves.
Family caregivers who provide care 36 or more hours weekly are more likely than non-caregivers to experience symptoms of depression or anxiety. For spouses the rate is six times higher; for those caring for a parent the rate is twice as high.
A wife's hospitalization increased her husband's chances of dying within a month by 35%. A husband's hospitalization boosted his wife's mortality risk by 44%.
Family caregivers experiencing extreme stress have been shown to age prematurely. This level of stress can take as much as 10 years off a family caregiver's life.
Family caregivers report having a chronic condition at more than twice the rate of non-caregivers.
Family caregivers comprise 13% of the workforce.
59% of family caregivers who care for someone over the age of 18 either work or have worked while providing care. And 62% have had to make some adjustments to their work life, from reporting late to work to giving up work entirely.
37% of human resource directors did not feel that their organizations made a real and ongoing effort to inform employees of available assistance for managing work and family responsibilities.
Women average 14 years out of the paid labor force, primarily because of caregiving responsibilities.
American businesses can lose as much as $34 billion each year due to employees' need to care for loved ones 50 years of age and older.
10% of employed family caregivers go from full-time to part-time jobs because of their caregiving responsibilities.
Both male and female children of aging parents make changes at work in order to accommodate caregiving responsibilities. Both have modified their schedules (men 54%, women 56%). Both have come in late and/or leave early (men 78%, women 84%) and both have altered their work-related travel (men 38%, women 27%).
Over 65% of employers believe that health benefits improve employees' health. Sixty percent (60%) believe it increases moral and 39% believe it increases productivity.
Although hard research does not exist to prove it, researchers in the field think that only 2% of employed family caregivers actually take advantage of the benefits their companies offer.
Over 90% of family caregivers become more proactive about seeking resources and skills they need to assist their care recipient after they have self-identified.
83% of self-identified family caregivers believe their self awareness led to increased confidence when talking to healthcare professionals about their loved one's care.
For over 75% of family caregivers it was the act of helping their loved one with personal care that contributed to their self-identification.
For 60% of family caregivers, their loved one's diagnosis and their interaction with the health care system made them aware that they were family caregivers.
Focus group research suggests that family caregivers do not recognize that public policy has a direct impact on their day-to-day lives. Many are uncomfortable even thinking there might be a connection.
State by State Statistics
The economic value of family caregiving is detailed here in a state-by-state comparison of the number of family caregivers in the country, the number of hours they spend on caregiving responsibilities, and the market value of those services. As noted above the most recent estimate of the value of family caregivers' services is $306 billion annually. This report is based on the state-by-state statistics for 2004 and prepared in August of 2006 by NFCA and the Family Caregiver Alliance's National Center of Caregiving in conjunction with Peter S. Arno, PhD, Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, Montefiore Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine. The data and methodology are based on Dr. Arno's previous study, Economic Value of Informal Caregiving: 2004.
Note: Survey statistics sometimes seem to contradict each other. That's because each study or survey has its own methodology, its own set of variables, data sources, etc. It doesn't mean one is right and the other wrong. It does mean you need to understand how the survey was developed and constructed. Comparing Survey Stats and Understanding Why They Differ explains this in more detail.