NYS Family Caregivers Provide $31.3 Billion in Unpaid Care: AARP Study

New report reveals stress on family caregivers' health and finances; identifies policies to help support caregivers

Jul 16, 2015, 12:19 ET from AARP New York

WASHINGTON, July 16, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Family caregivers in New York State provided 2.4 billion hours of care - worth an estimated $31.3 billion - to their parents, spouses, partners, and other adult loved ones in 2013, according to AARP Public Policy Institute's new report, Valuing the Invaluable: 2015 Update.

The total estimated economic value of uncompensated care provided by the nation's family caregivers – approximately $470 billion - surpassed total Medicaid spending ($449 billion), and equaled the annual sales of the four largest U.S. tech companies combined (Apple, Hewlett Packard, IBM, and Microsoft) in 2013 ($469 billion).

Family caregiving for relatives or close friends with chronic, disabling, or serious health problems so they can remain in their home is nearly universal today. In 2013, nearly 2.6 million family caregivers in New York helped another adult loved one carry out daily activities (such as bathing or dressing, preparing meals, administering medications, driving to doctor visits, and paying bills).     

"New York took some important steps this year to support family caregivers, but this new report shows just how valuable caregivers are and underscores the need to do more to help them," said Beth Finkel, State Director for AARP in New York state. "Legislative passage of the CARE Act and a substantial state budget increase for respite programs are welcome developments, but as our population ages the stresses on caregivers will only increase."

Family Caregivers in the Future

As Americans live longer and have fewer children, fewer family members will be available for older adults to rely on for everyday help in the future. The ratio of potential family caregivers to the growing number of older people has already begun a steep decline. In 2010, there were 7.2 potential family caregivers for every person age 80 and older. By 2030, that ratio will fall sharply to 4 to 1, and is projected to drop further to 3 to 1 in 2050.

In New York, the numbers are similar (see page 9 of report): 6.6 people aged 45-65 for every person 80 and older who would likely need care at some point in 2010, shrinking to 4.8 by 2030 and 3.5 by 2050.

Impact of Caregiving on Jobs, Money, and Health

Family caregivers report that the stress of caregiving affects their physical and emotional health, finances, and their jobs.

  • More than half (55%) of family caregivers report being overwhelmed by the amount of care their family member needs.
  • Nearly 4 in 10 (38%) family caregivers report a moderate (20%) to high degree (18%) of financial strain as a result of providing care. 
  • In 2014, the majority (60%) of family caregivers had full- or part-time jobs.

Strategies and Policies Needed to Help Caregivers

"AARP strongly supports the CARE Act and urges Governor Cuomo to sign it when it reaches his desk," said Finkel. The CARE Act, which passed the state Legislature unanimously this year, ensures hospitals offer designated family caregivers instructions and demonstrations in health care tasks they'll be required to perform for patients at home after discharge.

Finkel added, "We also need to work on a broader plan that involves both the public and private sectors to support family caregivers here in New York."

"Valuing the Invaluable: 2015 Update" Methodology

The estimates in this report by AARP's Public Policy Institute are based on a meta-analysis of 11 U.S.-based surveys of family caregivers conducted between 2009 and 2014. Estimates are based on about 40 million caregivers providing an average of 18 hours of care per week to a parent, spouse/partner, or other adult loved one, at an average value of $12.51 per hour. 'Caregiver' is defined as an adult age 18 and older providing care to a parent, spouse, or other adult loved one with their daily activities such as bathing or dress, preparing meals, and/or managing their finances, currently or within the last month.

Caregiving Resources: