Families, not social service agencies or government programs, are the foundation supporting long term care (LTC) for older persons in the United States. According to the most recent National Long Term Care Survey, more that seven million persons are informal caregivers – providing unpaid help to older persons who live in the community and have at least one limitation on their activities of daily living. These caregivers include spouses, adult children, and other relatives and friends. The degree of caregiver involvement has remained fairly constant for more than a decade, bearing witness to the remarkable resilience of the American family in taking care of its older persons. This is despite increased geographic separation, greater numbers of women in the workforce, and other changes in family life. Thus, family caregiving has been a blessing in many respects. It has been a budget-saver to governments faced annually with the challenge of covering the health and LTC expenses of persons who are ill and have chronic disabilities. If the work of caregivers had to be replaced by paid home care staff, the estimated cost would be $45-75 billion per year.
For additional information, contact Susan Frederickson.