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Valuing the invaluable: a new look at the economic value of family caregiving.

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  • 1AARP Public Policy Institute, 601 E Street NW, Washington, DC 20049, USA.


The contributions of America's family caregivers, along with many friends and neighbors, often go unrecognized in public policy discussions about the financing and costs of health care and long-term services and supports (LTSS). Yet these unpaid caregivers provide by far the majority of long-term services and supports received by persons with disabilities of all ages. Many of these "informal" caregivers also provide health-related services. In fact, their contributions to loved ones and friends are not only the foundation of the nation's long-term care system but an important component of the U.S. economy, with an estimated economic value of about $350 billion in 2006. This issue brief discusses the financial impact of caregiving on the caregivers themselves as well as the economic value of their contributions to society. It compares the economic value of informal caregiving to other benchmarks in order to underscore the magnitude of these unpaid contributions, presents estimates of productivity losses to U.S. businesses from caregiving, and highlights the critical role that family caregivers play in the nation's long-term care system. Finally, it recommends ways to support informal caregivers through public policies and in the private sector.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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