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Caregivers Count Too! Section 2: Why Are Family Caregivers Vital?

Why Family Caregivers are Vital to Health Care and Long-Term Care

Many people rely on them …

  • Most people (80%) who need LTC supportive services live at home or in community settings, not in institutions.
  • More than 78% of adults who receive LTC at home get all their care from unpaid family and friends.

Family caregivers fill big gaps in health and long-term care …

  • Changes in health care delivery, including shorter hospital stays and limited discharge planning, require family members to provide more difficult, intense care for longer periods of time.
  • Caregivers of people with chronic illnesses or disabilities often have the primary responsibility for carrying out care plans, ensuring that the care recipient’s treatment is a success.
  • The shortage of direct care workers in HCBS and nursing home settings leaves many family caregivers without an alternative.

They are saving us money …

  • Unpaid caregiving by family and friends has an estimated national economic value (in 2004) of $306 billion annually—exceeding combined costs for nursing home care ($103.2 billion) and home health care ($36.1 billion).

But… they are not taking care of themselves!

  • One-fourth of women caregivers report health problems as a result of their caregiving activities.
  • Caregivers report higher levels of depressive symptoms and mental health problems than do their noncaregiving peers (20% to 50%  report depressive disorders or symptoms).
  • Two-thirds of caregivers report they need help to find care for themselves, to balance work and family responsibilities and to manage emotional and physical stress.

[See Data Sources for Statistics for the statistics in this section.]

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