Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What is the Economic Value of Caregiving?

AARP recently released a comprehensive report on the economic value of caregiving. If you are caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease, it's important to know how your informal caregiving affects our currently fragile economy. Consider these facts:

  • In 2007, approximately 34 million family members were providing informal caregiving at any given point.
  • Approximately 52 million family members provided informal caregiving at some time during 2007.
  • The estimated value of unpaid caregiving for 2007 was $375 billion.
  • This is an increase over the 2006 estimated value of unpaid caregiving, which was $350 billion.
  • $375 billion is comparable to the total sales of Wal-Mart stores in the same year.
  • The economic value of unpaid eldercare was more than long-term care Medicaid spending in all states.
  • In 36 states, the economic value of caregiving was more than three times as high as long-term Medicaid spending.
  • The economic value of unpaid eldercare, including caring for those with Alzheimer's, was more than three times as high as spending on home- and community-based Medicaid services.
  • In 19 states, the economic value of caregiving was more than ten times as high as home- and community-based Medicaid spending.
  • Unpaid caregiving includes personal care and help with daily tasks as well as assistance with complex medical procedures and administering medications.
  • The “typical” caregiver in the United States is a 46-year-old woman working outside the home who provides more than 20 hours a week of eldercare to her mother.
  • Those providing eldercare reported spending an average of $5,531 out-of-pocket for caregiving expenses in 2007.
  • Long-distance caregivers reported the highest out-of-pocket expenses ($8,728) while those caring for someone nearby reported average out-of-pocket caregiving expenses of $4,570.

The report points out that family caregivers are the “backbone” of the United States’ long-term care system. I couldn’t agree more.


Valuing the invaluable: The economic value of family caregiving, 2008 update. AARP Public Policy Institute. 2008


flintysooner said...

When my dad died one of the attorneys actually spent a little time calculating the value of my caregiving. When you figure 24 hours at 7 days per week it doesn't take much of a rate to get a big number.

One of the things that is a big issue for me is the implications for caregivers for social security, medicare, and estate issues. I spent some time writing congress people about it. I had two members that were very interested and had additional communication with me. But these things take forever.

And now there are such huge problems that most everything else is pushed aside.

cornbread hell said...

here's a link to a relevant article from a science journal i subscribe to.

rilera said...

Flinty, that's interesting that your lawyers did the math. I agree with you about the implications for SS and medicare. Caregiving also impacted my salary (I worked a 32 hour week when caring for Mom) and my vacation and sick accrual. But then I guess it's like when a person takes maternity leave, they also have their salary impacted.

rilera said...

Rick, that is also an interesting article and quite relevant now with the whole health care reform debate. Medicare is not going to last through the baby boomers it sounds like. Thanks for the link!

flintysooner said...

Except maternity leave is not for 9 years usually.

The problem with social security is that benefits are based on a certain number of quarters of work so if you are earning less during caregiving then you have a benefit decrease. If you are young enough it doesn't matter too much I suppose but the older you are the bigger the problem.

rilera said...

Terry, very true. I'd forgotten that some of us were in the trenches for a very long time.

nancy said...

i totally agree with flinty on this. the longer we are caregivers, and i didn't do it 24/7 for near the time he did, the greater impact it has on an individual.

it will be interesting to see what the future holds.....

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