According to a study by the National Alliance for Caregiving in 2020, 1 in 5 adults in the United States have provided care to a loved one in the last 12 months. The value of this unpaid labor force is valued at $470 billion annually as of 2019.
The annual economic value of unpaid family caregivers is more than:
All out-of-pocket spending on U.S. health care ($366 billion in 2017).
Professional home care services ($97 billion in 2019).
Total annual spending at nursing homes and continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) ($172.2 billion in 2019).
The Financial Impact of Caregiving
Evidence shows that most caregivers are ill-prepared for their role and provide care with little or no support. (Source) They are also often financially strained, with nearly half of caregivers reporting financial strain in one of the following areas according to AARP:
The inability to save money
Taking on more debt
Using up personal savings
Missing bills/late payments
Needing to borrow money from friends or family.
Family caregivers, according to this same study, spend an estimated average of $7000 per year in out-of-pocket expenses.
The Emotional Impact of Caregiving
Caregivers are at an elevated risk of mental health problems.
Roughly 20% of caregivers are clinically diagnosed with depression (twice the rate of the general population).
An estimated 60% of caregivers show clinically significant signs of depression.
Those caring for someone with dementia are at even higher risks of depression.
Female caregivers are at an elevated risk of depression over male caregivers.
You are at a higher risk for mental health illness as a caregiver if:
There is a chronic and progressive illness in a loved one under your care.
Your care recipient shows abnormal, erratic, or disruptive behavior.
Your care recipient has a cognitive impairment.
They are under your care for a long period of time.
The care recipient is your spouse.
Your care recipient shows functional and/or physical deficits.
You’re caring for someone with a form of dementia (such as Alzheimer’s disease).
The Physical Impact of Caregiving
Caregivers have lower levels of subjective well-being and physical health than noncaregivers with the greatest impact among caregivers treating patients with dementia. (Source)
“Caregivers are more stressed, depressed, and have lower levels of subjective well-being, physical health, and self-efficacy than noncaregivers.” (Source)
According to AARP, 1 in 4 caregivers (23%) find it difficult to take care of their own health while caregiving. 23% of caregivers also self-report that caregiving has made their health worse. This rate of physical health impact gets worse with time - the longer someone provides care, the worse their reported health gets.
Demographics of Caregiving
The caregiving community is heavily comprised of older females, though millennials are increasing their portion of this demographic.
67% of caregivers are female, only 33% are male.
People of color make up a larger proportion of the caregiving community.
The average caregiver age is 49.9 years old.
32% of caregivers have a child or grandchild at home in their care.
50% of caregivers work full-time while providing care.
Caregivers are likely to be more stressed, anxious, or depressed than the general populace. They are also likely to experience financial strains and physical ailments or declining health due to stress during (and sometimes for years after) caregiving. While this situation may feel lonely, as a caregiver, you are not alone.
For further reading and resources, we invite you to check out our library of information for family caregivers by clicking here. You are also welcome to give us a call at 800-543-8312 to find out more about how we can support you in your caregiving journey.