Why Care for Caregivers?
Caregiving touches us all
Within our families, neighborhoods, faith communities, workplaces, health care organizations and circles of friends, we all know people who are caregivers. Some are among the 14 million professionals whose job it is to care for others. Others are among the 65 million who help their family, friends or neighbors. In the words of Rosalyn Carter, “Caregiving is universal. There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who currently are caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.”
Caregiving benefits us all
We all need what caregivers give. Everyday, millions of ill, disabled, elderly and special-needs children depend on caregivers for help. Families and friends of those receiving help rely on caregivers to do the things that distance, time or other responsibilities keep them from doing themselves. Our US healthcare and long-term care systems trust them to perform as professionals or take over from the professionals when patients go home. As individuals and as a society we count on caregivers to do their jobs.
Caregiving is costly
It impacts caregiver health and the bottom line. Stressed caregivers are at risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, depression and other chronic illnesses.1 These caregivers have more than 15% lower median incomes than non-caregiving families.2 American businesses incur annual productivity losses of as much as $34 billion3 and increases of 8% on health benefits costs for their family caregiver employees.4 Professionals in complex, resource-hungry systems struggle with dissatisfaction, turnover and staffing shortages that create costly patient complications and productivity problems.
Caregivers need help
Demand for care is rising as our population ages and technology advances, but resources are constrained by finances and a significant health care workforce shortage. Caregivers are caught in the gap between looming needs and limited resources. Dilemmas, desire and dedication are a potent, stressful mix. Caregivers know there are no easy solutions, yet thankfully, they continue to care.
1 Valuing the Invaluable: A New Look at the Economic Value of Family Caregiving. AARP Public Policy Institute. 2007 and 2008 Update.
2 Family Caregivers-What They Spend, What They Sacrifice. Evercare and National Alliance for Caregiving. 2007.
3 MetLife Caregiving Cost Study: Productivity Losses to US Business. MetLife Mature Market Institute. 2006.
4 MetLife Study of Working Caregivers and Employer Health Care Costs: New Insights and Innovations for Reducing Health Care Costs for Employers. MetLife Mature Market Institute. 2010.