Family caregivers provide needed day-to-day support and services and manage complex care tasks for adults with chronic, disabling, or serious health conditions. In addition to helping with self-care or other everyday activities and giving emotional and social support, family caregivers handle complex medical and nursing tasks at home, like performing wound care, giving injections, and managing medical equipment.
In Washington, the unpaid care provided by these 820,000 silent saviors is valued at $16.8 billion, according to new state data available in AARP’s latest Valuing the Invaluable report. This is a $4.8 billion increase in unpaid contributions since the last report was released in 2019.
The share of available family caregivers is projected to continue shrinking relative to the number of older adults who will potentially need long-term care. By 2034, adults aged 65 and older will outnumber children under the age of 18 for the first time. In addition, family caregivers will continue to face the dual demands of employment and caregiving responsibilities, which often include caring for an older adult and children simultaneously.
The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the realities of the caregiving experience. Family caregivers and their care recipients lost access to paid care support due to program closures and staff shortages, experienced isolation and loneliness, and struggled with financial losses in income, housing, and food security. In addition, almost 40% of family caregivers increased their care hours. In fact, for working family caregivers, it was the equivalent of taking on a part-time job.
“Family caregivers play a vital role in Washington’s health care system, whether they care for someone at home, coordinate home health care, or help care for someone who lives in a nursing home,” said Marguerite Ro, AARP Washington State Director. “We want to make sure all family caregivers have the financial, emotional and social support they need, because the care they provide is invaluable both to those receiving it and to their community.”
Valuing the Invaluable highlights trends in family caregiving, explores the growing scope and complexity of family caregiving, and discusses actions needed to address the financial, social, and emotional challenges of caring for parents, spouses, and other loved ones.
AARP Washington supports family caregivers and the loved ones who depend on them for care. For example, AARP Washington helped usher in the WA Cares program which provides funds to pay a family caregiver, which can help an estimated one in four workers who have left the workforce for caregiving responsibilities. These unpaid caregivers often deplete their financial resources, spending up to 26% of their own money on caregiving activities.
Read the full report for national and state-by-state data on the economic value of unpaid care by family and friends by visiting www.aarp.org/valuing
Resources and information on family caregiving are available at aarp.org/caregiving.