For All the Caregivers in the World, Caring, Enduring, and Sacrificing

Did you know these things about caregivers?

More than 65 million people, 29% of the U.S. population, provide care for a chronically ill, disabled, or aged family member or friend.

They spend an average of 20 hours per week providing care for their loved ones, and 13% of family caregivers are providing 40 hours of care a week or more.

The value of the services family caregivers provide for “free,” when caring for older adults, is estimated to be $375 billion a year.

That is almost twice as much as is actually spent on home-care and nursing home services combined ($158 billion).

Family caregivers are the foundation of long-term care nationwide, exceeding Medicaid long-term care spending in all states.

36% of family caregivers care for a parent and 7 out of 10 caregivers are caring for loved ones over 50 years old.

14% of family caregivers care for a special needs child with an estimated 16.8 million caring for special needs children under 18 years old.

55% of these caregivers are caring for their own children.

Women who are family caregivers are 2.5 times more likely than non-caregivers to live in poverty and five times more likely to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Caregiving families (families in which one member has a disability) have median incomes that are more than 15% lower than non-caregiving families.

In every state and DC the poverty rate is higher among families with members with a disability than among families without.

63% of caregivers report having poor eating habits than non-caregivers and 58% indicate worse exercise habits than before caregiving responsibilities.

64% of working parents caring for a special needs child believe that caregiving responsibility has negatively impacted their work performance.

A typical family caregiver in the U.S. is female and spends an average of 20 hours or more per week providing unpaid care to someone 50 or older. However, the proportion of caregivers who are men is also substantial.

Duties of caregivers are usually full time and include, but are not limited to: cooking, cleaning, bathing, medical care adherence monitoring, errand running (grocery shopping, transportation to appointments) and other activities of daily living (ADLs).

Family caregivers who provide care for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease often provide more ADL assistance than non-Alzheimer’s caregivers due to the impairments of the care recipient.

While caregiving can be rewarding and positive, many family caregivers experience significant physical, psychological, and financial stress in association with their caregiving role.

Caregivers report increased physical ailments as compared to non-caregivers, e.g., chronic headaches and backaches and weakened immune systems.

When compared to their non-caregiving counterparts, family caregivers report higher levels of stress/distress, depression, emotional problems, and cognitive problems.

Psycho-social issues such as an increased emotional stress, burnout, fatigue, anger, resentment, higher levels of anxiety, inadequate time for sleep and self-care, and mental weariness and isolation have been reported in the caregivers.

Estimates suggest that between 40 to 70 percent of caregivers have clinically significant symptoms of depression, with approximately one-fourth to one-half of these caregivers meeting the diagnostic criteria for major depression.

Female caregivers fare worse than their male counterparts, reporting higher levels of depressive and anxiety symptoms and lower levels of subjective well-being, life satisfaction, and physical health than male caregivers.

Family caregivers also face financial burdens, as estimated caregiver out-of-pocket expenses are, on average, $2,400 per year to help care recipients.

Further, family caregivers can experience loss in wages and other work related benefits due to changes in work patterns.

Caregiving has been associated with constraints in the social, vocational, and recreational opportunities of the caregivers.

Low levels of life satisfaction and marital adjustment, illl-health and poor quality of life in caregivers has also been reported.

Different types of burdens have been researched: Time-Dependence Burden (burden because of restriction on the caregiver’s time), Developmental Burden (feeling of being left behind in their development in respect to their peers)

.Social isolation, loss of previously close friendships, and stigma associated with taking care of intellectually disabled person may further predispose the caregiver to the risk of depression.


American Psychology Association, Caregiving in the United States, National Alliance for Caregiving and Evercare, Social Security Administration

DisabilityJ.D. Kim