$450 Billion, the Cost of Family Caregivers
According to a report done by the AARP Public Policy Institute, family caregivers provided care worth $450 billion in 2009 and these numbers are on the rise. This statistic makes caregivers one of the largest pillars of the health care system and yet an almost completely overlooked are.
This report aimed to put a dollar value on every task performed by family caregivers for their loved ones, which amounts to nearly four times what Medicaid itself paid for long-term care services.
The report found that on average caretakers provided care 20 hours per week, used there personal saving to cover the costs, and are leaving the workforce early thus loosing out on salary and retirement benefits. Apart from the financial costs between 40 and 70 percent of caregivers display symptoms of clinical depression and the physical strain has a negative effects on the caregivers leading to lack of sleep and more common cases dementia. These statistics show how truly overwhelmed family caregivers are.
With little governmental programs currently in place to help, the solution seems to be seeking help in other areas. Seeking proper training and participating in support groups is a good place to start but respite care may be a crucial part of the solution. With the help of part time professional caregivers, family caretakers can relieve some of the stress of the situation. Unless we make a change caregivers will continue to face these difficult stresses and costs.