Value of Caregivers - 2011

Rosemary K. Heins
University of Minnesota Extension Educator

The words ‘caregiver’ and ‘caregiving’ are fairly new to many but people throughout history have provided it or lived it.  Most people see caregiving as the normal expected duties of the wife, a husband, an adult child, a brother or sister. 

Rosalynn Carter said there are only four kinds of people,

Caregiving differs according to need, community resources and caregiver capability.  Some people may provide 24-hour care in their home, while other provide guidance and support via long-distance phone calls and correspondence.  Some offer care after work or on weekends. Others supplement care in a nursing home or have help from a local hospice organization when caring for a family member.

According to conservative estimates, the economic value of the unpaid, informal care friends and family provide nationwide is $306 billion per year.  This figure dwarfs the annual national spending for formal home health care and formal nursing home care, which totals about $158 billion.
The percentage of older adults in the US is growing faster than at any other time in our history.  Two factors – longer life spans and the large group of aging baby boomers – will combine to double the population of American aged 65 and older during the next 25 years.  The demand for caregiver will only increase!

Caregivers are important people.  If you are or know someone needing more information on programs to help caregivers check out the Healthy Aging Minnesota website.  It is www.mnhealthyaging.org