About Caregiving

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Caregiving is a universal human experience. Nearly all of us will find ourselves caring for another person who is ill, disabled, elderly, or frail. Also, most of us will find ourselves needing care eventually, especially if we live long lives. By working together, we can make the care system better for all of us, starting now.

As millions of Americans grow older, 7 out of 10 of us will need assistance from another person. We will need help with simple activities such as eating, bathing, and moving from place to place. Some of us will only need care for a short time, but others will need help for years.  Some elders will have loved ones close by who can help when needed. But many will lack a reliable support network. Perhaps a spouse has died, an adult child has moved away, or friends are no longer nearby. That’s why we need a community that cares.

As millions of us embrace the gift of longer lives in the 21st century, our communities will increasingly need to support their elderly residents so they can age in place and live in dignity.

What do we need to do to address these societal changes? For ideas on how to encourage positive public policy changes in your community, read our list of suggested party platform planks.

Consider these facts:

  • 43.5 million Americans provide unpaid care to someone who is ill, disabled or aged.[1]
  • Caregiver services were valued at $470 billion per year in 2013.[2]
  • For men the total individual amount of lost wages due to leaving the labor force early and/or reduced hours of work because of caregiving responsibilities equals $89,107. The estimated impact of caregiving on lost Social Security benefits is $144,609. Adding in a conservative estimate of the impact on pensions at $50,000, the total impact equals $283,716 for men, or $303,880 for the average male or female caregiver 50+ who cares for a parent.[3]
  • The number of people 65+ will more than double between the years 2000 and 2030, increasing from 35 million to over 70 million. [4]
  • Individuals 85 years and older, the oldest old, are one of the fastest growing segments of the population. In 2012, there were an estimated 5.9 million people 85+ in the United States. This figure is expected to increase to 19.4 million by 2050. This means that there could be an increase from 1.6 million to 6.2 million people age 85 or over with severe or moderate memory impairment in 2050. [5]
  • The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that one in nine Americans aged 65 and older are affected with the condition.[6]
  • There are an estimated 1.3 million American children and young adults between the ages of eight and eighteen who make caregiving contributions and sacrifices.[7] This is more than three times as many children and teens as there are in foster care, yet caregiving youth are largely invisible as a special population in need of support. Anxiety and depression are common for caregivers of all ages, but for young people the stresses and responsibilities of caregiving often contribute to poor academic performance and a school drop-out rate of 22%.[8]


[1] National Alliance for Caregiving. Caregiving in the U.S. 2015. Research report published jointly by the National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP. Published June 2015.
http://www.caregiving.org/caregiving2015/. Accessed August 19, 2015.

[2] Choula, R., Feinberg, L., Houser, A., Reinhard, S. Valuing the Invaluable: 2015 Update: Undeniable Progress but Big Gaps Remain. AARP Public Policy Institute. Published July 2015.
http://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/ppi/2015/valuing-the-invaluable-2015-update-new.pdf. Accessed August 19, 2015.

[3] MetLife Mature Market Institute. The MetLife Study of Caregiving Costs to Caregivers: Double Jeopardy for Baby Boomers Caring for Their Parents. June, 2011.
https://www.metlife.com/assets/cao/mmi/publications/studies/2011/Caregiving-Costs-to-Working-Caregivers.pdf. Accessed August 19, 2015.

[4] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living. Administration on Aging: Aging Statistics.
http://www.aoa.acl.gov/Aging_Statistics/index.aspx. Accessed August 19, 2015.

[5] Family Caregiver Alliance. What is Long-Term Care? Selected Long-term Care Statistics: Family and Informal Caregivers.
https://caregiver.org/selected-long-term-care-statistics. Accessed August 19, 2015.

[6] Alzheimer’s Association. 2015 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures. Page 16.
https://www.alz.org/facts/downloads/facts_figures_2015.pdf. Accessed August 19, 2015.

[7] Hunt, G., Levine, C., Naiditch, L. Young Caregivers in the U.S.: Report of Findings. Research report published jointly by the National Alliance for Caregiving and the United Hospital Fund. Published September 2005. http://www.caregiving.org/pdf/research/youngcaregivers.pdf. Accessed March 31, 2016.

[8] Bridgeland, J.M., DiIulio Jr., J.J, Morison, K.B. The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of High School Dropouts. A report by Civic Enterprises in association with Peter D. Hart Research Associates for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Published March 2006.
http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED513444.pdf. Accessed March 31, 2016.

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