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Care Provided by Friends & Family Print E-mail

An Estimated 44 million Americans age 18 and older provide unpaid assistance and support to older people and adults who live in the community. (1)

The value of this unpaid labor force is estimated to be at least $306 billion annually. (1)

Thirty two percent of caregivers provide care in the home for less than one year; 26% provide care for 1-2 years; 18% provide care for 3-7 years and 24% of caregivers provide care for 8 or more years. (2)

Although most caregivers bear their burden with love, many report enormous stress, feelings of guilt or inadequacy, depression and even physical ailments as a result of their care giving.

Women as caregivers

women as primary care givers for people needing assistance in daily livingApproximately two-thirds of those providing assistance to aging or disabled family members and friends are female. (3) Many women are caring for children under age 18 and aging family members simultaneously.

They have become part of the emerging "sandwich generation" of caregivers. Caring for an aging parent as well as two lively teenagers while managing a household and a full-time job can be a potentially exhausting situation! Whether you are a wife, mother, daughter, sister, niece, or friend, your dual care giving situation can take a toll on your own emotions and your physical health.

The financial implications

Providing Long Term Care may also have a substantial impact on your finances. The most obvious is the loss of work time and wages, as well as missed business opportunities and employment. Over a third of surveyed caregivers reported direct negative consequences to their own careers resulting from their responsibilities to a care recipient. Many of these family members worked fewer hours with repeated absences and nearly 20% reported a direct loss of career opportunities; 44% percent had to work fewer hours; 48% lost a job, changed shifts and/or missed career opportunities; 38 percent incurred repeated absences and 17% found themselves repeatedly late for work. (2)

You may also incur additional costs for special medical equipment or for home modifications such as a wheelchair ramp. Care giving can affect your earnings, your productivity, and ultimately your quality of life.

Changing demographics

Another reason for the recent public focus on Long Term Care is the changes impacting families. Years ago, most elderly people depended on their family to care for them as they aged. Family members lived close by or even under the same roof.

Today, many women are in the work force, children have moved away and divorce rates now approach 50 percent. All of these factors contribute to the inability of families to meet the needs of their aging parents. Thus the elderly must rely on professional assistance, which comes at a cost.

1. National Family Caregivers Association & Family Caregiver Alliance, 2006. "Prevalence, House and Economic Value of Family Caregiving."

2. Genworth, September 2010. "Beyond Dollars: The True Impact of Long Term Caring."

3. US Department of Health and Human Services, 2011.


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