There are an estimated 40 million caregivers in the USA. Most of those are unpaid, female family members who have to sacrifice their own careers to care for frail family members. Most times, they care for their loved ones without receiving any type of compensation for their effort and time. Many times, these vital members of healthcare teams are overlooked as healthcare providers give care to their charges. Without them, most of these patients would be in facilities outside of their homes, overloading the health care system.
AARP says that it would cost about $470 Billion to replace the services provided by unpaid caregivers. They freely give 37 billion hours (18 hours per week) of care. Many times, these caregivers have little to no medical training. A joint study published in June by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving found that one out of six caregivers surveyed said that a health care provider asked after their own well-being in relation to their caregiving duties.
To ensure these caregivers will continue to be available, more attention needs to be paid towards the caregiver burden and respite care. Caregivers that are too stressed are eventually going to become unwell. If they are unwell, there is no one available to care for the most fragile patients.
Take some time to read Forbes’ “We Need to do a Better Job Caring for 40 Million Family Caregivers”. It’s a comprehensive explanation of the very real caregiver crisis that is happening in this country, as well as the changes that are being made to relieve caregivers of some of their burden.
Judie Rappaport, President & Founder
Preferred Lifestyle Services
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