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Unpaid Caregivers Pack Powerful Economic Punch

What would be worth more than the combined 2013 sales of Apple, Hewlett Packard, IBM and Microsoft?

Why, the unpaid services by family caregivers in the United States that same year, according to a recent report by the AARP.

The medical support and other services provided to loved ones was estimated at $470 billion.

That’s with a B.

“Those unpaid services are worth more than total Medicaid spending for 2013 …,” according to a Reuters news story on the report

“An estimated 40 million family caregivers worked an average of 18 unpaid hours each week helping spouses, parents, partners and other loved ones, AARP estimated,” the story went on. “Almost half of the caregivers performed complicated tasks such as giving injections, operating medical equipment, and wound care.”

“Providing care for a family member, partner, or friend with a chronic, disabling or serious health condition, known as ‘family caregiving,’ is nearly universal today,” lead report author Susan Reinhard, director of public policy for AARP, told Reuters by email. “It affects most people at some point in their lives.”

“For those who provide long-term care for years and for those with particularly demanding situations – caring for someone with dementia, for example – the detrimental effects on caregivers’ mental and physical health, financial status, employment, and on other family relationships have been well documented,” Carol Levine, director of the families and health care project at the United Hospital Fund, a nonprofit research and philanthropy organization in New York, who wasn’t involved in the study, commented to the news service via email.

Family caregivers may benefit from strengthened relationships with their loved ones, as well as a sense of satisfaction from making it possible for loved ones to remain at home instead of moving to an institutional setting, Levine noted, according to the story.

“There are potential upsides,” she was quoted as saying.

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