A report by the RAND Corporation published in Health Services Research, June 2015, found that:
- Informal (unpaid) caregiving by family members and friends is the primary source of long-term eldercare in the United States.
- Family members and friends spend an estimated 30 billion hours each year caring for the elderly.
- The annual cost of this informal caregiving—measured by estimating income lost during the time that unpaid caregivers spend on eldercare—is US$522 billion.
- Replacing informal care with unskilled paid care at minimum wage would cost US$221 billion a year; replacing it with skilled nursing care would cost US$642 billion a year.
The challenge for our policy makers is to start investing in programs and systems that make it easier for family and friends to provide such valuable care and support.