WASHINGTON — The unpaid work provided by family caregivers is valued at an estimated $600 billion, according to the latest report in AARP’s Valuing the Invaluable series. This is a $130 billion increase in unpaid contributions from family caregivers since the last report was released in 2019. The economic impact of $600 billion is more than all out-of-pocket spending on health care in the U.S. in 2021.
This report 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.
By 2034, adults age 65 and older will outnumber children under the age of 18 for the first time. 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. 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.
“Family caregivers are the backbone of long-term care in this country,” said Susan Reinhard, senior vice president, AARP Public Policy Institute, and a lead author of the report. “The care they provide is invaluable to those receiving it. But this is not just a family issue: it impacts communities, employers, and our health and long-term care systems. We must treat family caregivers as the valuable resource that they are by providing them the support they need to care for loved ones while also caring for themselves.”
AARP is pushing this year to turn the National Strategy to Support Family Caregivers into action that provides meaningful, tangible outcomes and support for family caregivers. The National Strategy, delivered to Congress last September, stemmed from the RAISE Family Caregivers Act, which is championed by AARP. The National Strategy highlights nearly 350 actions that the federal government will take and more than 150 that can be adopted by stakeholders and other levels of government to give family caregivers the help they need.
“While meaningful changes are underway at the federal and state levels to support the millions of caregivers in the U.S., there is more work to be done,” said Reinhard. “AARP is continuing to push for policy changes that will give family caregivers the financial, emotional and social support they need to care for family and friends.”
To read the full report and methodology, visit aarp.org/valuing. Resources and information on family caregiving are available at aarp.org/caregiving.
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.