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AARP Brings New Attention To Role, Plight Of Caregivers

senior woman with home caregiver
senior woman with home caregiver
Calling them an “invisible army of 40 million heroes,” the editors of the American Association of Retired Persons Bulletin in November squarely placed the focus on these unseen caregivers.

In an editorial that accompanied “Caregiving in America 2015,” statistics from a recent report conducted by the AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving estimated that many people are donating 37 billion hours a year for free to look after family members or friends who are frail, disabled or ill. The study suggested this time is worth as much as $470 billion.

A separate article on the same study by the AARP Public Policy Institute focuses on the extraordinary amount of stress these caregivers face.

“High-hour caregivers, who provide unpaid care for 21 hours or more each week, report the highest stress of all caregiving groups …,” according to the article

“The typical high-hour caregiver provides care for an average of five years and expects to continue care for another five years. With an average household income of $45,700, caregiving creates not only emotional strain but financial strain. Higher hour caregivers reported difficulty in finding affordable caregiving services for them and their loved ones in the community. Likewise, long-distance caregivers reported higher than average financial strain.”

“As previous AARP research has shown, we’re facing a caregiving cliff,” Dr. Susan Reinhard, senior vice president and director of the AARP Public Policy Institute and chief strategist with the Center to Champion Nursing in America, was quoted as saying. “By mid-century, there will only be three caregivers available for each person requiring care.

That means we need to provide support for existing caregivers who are underserved by the current long-term services and support system to avoid putting them at higher risk as they age.”

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