Unpaid in-home care tops all of healthcare expenses in U.S.

A recent AARP study looked at how much time family caregivers spend helping an aging relative with in-home care and found the economic value of that care tops $600 billion dollars.  The rate of those unbilled hours of in-home care adds up to more than the U.S. spends each year on total health care.

Most family caregivers are not paid for that in-home care, of course, and many balance caring for an aging parent with working full or part time or caring for younger children at home. While rewarding, caring for an aging relative or someone with a very serious illness can put strain on family caregivers, including causing lost days at work or career changes, requiring older relatives to move into another family member’s home, and increased stress or anxiety.

One of the biggest complaints is a feeling of lack of support. Someone providing unpaid in home care for an aging loved one may be missing out on socialization, entertainment, exercise or other activities which help them to feel connected to their community.

An inability to take breaks, a lack of respite care or help can often lead family caregivers to feel socially isolated. This feeling of loneliness is often associated with a break down of the caregiver’s heath, including higher blood pressure, weight gain, fatigue and even confusion or memory loss.

Granddaughter provides unpaid in-home care to her family member as they go for a walk.
Granddaughter helping her disabled grandmother walk with the aid of a walker.

In California, there are 4.4 billion family caregivers providing in-home care, making up 11.3% of the state’s population.  Californians provide 4.1 billion hours of in-home care to their loved ones, with an economic value of $81.1 billion dollars.

Helping with Activities of Daily Living

While the state offers some support to the most economically vulnerable population through In Home Supportive Services, or IHSS, most family caregivers are not paid to do errands such as bathing, dressing, attending doctor’s appointments, shopping, preparing meals, etc.

Some families turn to in home care agencies for help, and At Home Nursing Care, a licensed and accredited home health and home care agency has helped more than 500 families with caregiving and nursing in the home since 2010.

Paying for in-home care

How do families fund caregiving for their loved ones?  Some families have the benefit of purchasing long term care insurance, as Medicare does not generally provide caregiving services.  Even some Medicare Advantage plans, which tout offering home health aides, provide only a couple of hourly visits per week, hardly enough for most families that need help.

For veterans another source of funding for in home care is the VA Community Care Network, which is care paid for by the VA for veterans who qualify.  At Home Nursing Care is a proud to serve veterans as a credentialed member of the VA CCN, and we can assist with the process of accessing care with lots of information on our website here.

Some veterans with lower incomes also qualify for VA Aid & Attendance benefits, which are paid to the qualified veteran and/or his or her spouse if certain parameters are met.  You can learn more about VA Aid & Attendance here.

Finally, caregiving services are often split among family members helping to cover the private pay cost of care.  At Home Nursing Care offers visits a few times a week or care hourly or around the clock. 

Finding a Geriatric Care Manager, also known as an Aging Life Care Manager, to do an evaluation and create a plan for aging in place is another great option.   You can access more information about care managers by clicking here.