Clearly, the care family members provide for sick relatives add significant value to the life of the infirm. Many non-economists may consider the cost of this care as “free” because family members typically are not paid for this services. However, nothing could be further from the truth. If family members were not caring for their elderly relatives, the cost to care for elderly patients would be increased nursing home admissions and additional home health visits. Further, adults often must give up on their own careers to help out with their elderly parents.
Thus, it is not surprising that a recent AARP study found that the cost of caregiving is high. What may be surprising is just how high it is. According to the Valuing the Invaluable: 2015 Update report:
In 2013, about 40 million family caregivers in the United States provided an estimated 37 billion hours of care to an adult with limitations in daily activities. The estimated economic value of their unpaid contributions was approximately $470 billion in 2013, up from an estimated $450 billion in 2009.
Adults who care for elderly parents often do not get the credit they deserve. Thus study shows not only does caregiving provide valuable intangible benefits to the infirm, but it also generates significant monetary value as well.