Steve Barr of SGB Media Group discusses his personal experiences as the full-time caregiver for his elderly and infirm parents and reports on many available resources for family caregivers. Information provided on the site is meant to complement and not replace any advice or information from a health professionals.
What are family caregivers worth? As the credit card commercial says, they are priceless. But they also have a financial value. And calculating that value is important as we consider ways to help them. For example, before Congress creates new government supports for family members who help aging parents or other relatives with disabilities, it will want to know if that assistance could reduce other government spending.There are lots of ways to figure what caregiving is worth. For example, you could calculate what it would cost if all those family caregivers were paid market rates for the personal care they provide. AARP figures the economic value of family care could be as much as $470 billion annually. Or you could try to calculate the lifetime financial sacrifice of a daughter who abandons her career to help a relative. By one estimate, the lifetime cost to a 50-something woman who quits her job to care for an aging parent can be as much $300,000 in lost wages and retirement benefits. Here is another way to measure the value of family caregiving: By providing badly needed support for relatives living at home, can the care provided by family members cut health care costs by, say, reducing emergency room visits and hospitalizations? If they could, they’d not only improve the well-being of those they are helping, but they may also save government a significant amount of health care dollars.