Family Caregivers

According to the Institute of Medicine (2015), it is estimated that 66 million Americans, or 29% of the adult population, are caregivers for someone who is dying or chronically ill. Two- thirds of these caregivers are women. This care takes its toll physically, emotionally, and financially. Family caregivers may face the physical challenges of lifting, dressing, feeding, bathing, and transporting a dying or ill family member. They may worry about whether they are performing all tasks safely and properly, as they receive little training or guidance. Such caregiving tasks may also interfere with their ability to take care of themselves and meet other family and workplace obligations. Financially, families may face high out of pocket expenses (IOM, 2015).

As can be seen in Table 10.3, most family caregivers are employed, are providing care by themselves with little professional intervention, and there are high costs in lost productivity. As the prevalence of chronic disease rises, the need for family caregivers is growing. Unfortunately, the number of potential family caregivers is declining as the large baby boomer generation enters into late adulthood (Redfoot, Feinberg, & Houser, 2013).

Table 10.3 Characteristics of Family Caregivers in the United States


No home visits by health care professionals


Caregivers are also employed


Caregivers for the elderly


Duration of employed workers who have been caregiving for 3+ years


Annual cost of lost productivity due to absenteeism from working due to providing care

$25.2 billion

Adapted from IOM, 2015