Family caregivers are invisible.
Those children, spouses, or other relatives who provide personal assistance to loved ones with physical or cognitive limitations are often taken for granted or even ignored. But without them, our system of long-term supports and services would collapse. Frail elders and younger people with disabilities would get sicker. Hospitalizations would increase. Medicare and Medicaid costs would explode.
There are at least 40 million family members caring for adults in the US. According to a new study by the AARP Public Policy Institute, they provided 37 billion hours of assistance in 2013, or an average of 18 hours a week. And AARP figures the economic value of that care was $470 billion. To put it another way: that’s roughly what it would cost to replace that family assistance with paid services.