What is a Family Caregiver

People who step in to help friends, relatives, neighbors or life partners with health problems or disabilities are family caregivers. This help ranges from grocery shopping, help with personal grooming, and meal preparation to providing financial support and basic assistance with medical needs. Did you know:

  • About 25 percent of American families (nearly 66 million Americans) serve as unpaid caregivers to adult family members, special needs children, life partners and others in need. Most provide care to a family member, typically a parent who is over the age of 50.
  • Fourteen percent of care recipients are between ages 18 and 49.
  • If caregivers were paid on the open market for their services, society would have to spend about $375 billion.
  • More than half of caregivers are women and nearly four in ten are men.
  • Caregivers spend an average of 20 hours per week on caregiving; additional time is needed when the care recipient has more than one disability.
  • Caring for a person with disabilities can be physically demanding. This is especially true for older caregivers.
  • One-third of all caregivers describe their own health as fair to poor. Caregivers may have depression and are more likely to become physically ill.
  • Caregivers often worry that they will not live longer than the person they care for.
  • In 1900, average Americans could expect to live just 47 years. Today, life expectancy is 75 years, but chronic illness is common in the later years. As a result, older people now require about two years of care prior to death.

National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. Caregiving in the U.S. Funded by MetLife Foundation. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. RAND White Paper,. Living Well at the End of Life.