Families caring for elders worth $350 billion
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The estimated value of caregiving provided by family members in Hawaii last year is $1.25 billion, according to an AARP study released yesterday.
The nationwide estimate is $350 billion.
The figures are based on family members, 18 years or older, providing just under 21 hours of care per week to adults with limitations in daily activities. The study used $10.91 per hour for the Hawaii estimate and $9.63 for the nationwide estimate.
The study does not account for wage and benefit loss for people who quit their jobs or reduce their employment from full-time to part-time to care for a family member or for the reduction in productivity of those who continue to work.
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Six years ago, Scott and Shayne Liedtke were living and working in the Maldives, an island nation in the Indian Ocean. Scott was coaching a professional soccer team and Shayne was the general manager of the Diabetes and Cancer Society of Maldives.
That gave them the experience of working overseas and the opportunity to save money.
By the numbers
A look at the value of family caregiving:
United States: 299,000
Number of caregivers
United States: 34,000
Economic value per hour
United States: $9.63
Total economic value
United States: $350,000
"We didn't have to pay taxes," Scott said. "And there's nothing to spend on."
In 2001, the couple decided to move back to Hawaii and care for Shayne's grandmother.
"The timing was right," Shayne said. "My grandmother just lost her driver's license."
Now the two live with Shayne's grandmother and pay no mortgage or rent.
But they face a higher cost of living and fewer professional opportunities due to their decision.
In fact, it's common for people who become family caregivers to take leaves of absence, turn down promotions, go part-time or give up work entirely, according to the findings of an AARP study released yesterday.
And caregivers often suffer from stress.
The report estimates the value of caregiving by family members in Hawaii annually at $1.25 billion. That figure is 22 percent higher than total Medicaid spending in Hawaii in 2005, 3.8 times Medicaid spending on long-term care services and 10.3 times Medicaid spending on home and community-based long-term care services, the report said.
Nationwide, the study estimates the value of caregiving by family members last year was $350 billion, 18 percent higher than total Medicaid spending in 2005, 3.7 times Medicaid spending on long-term care services and 10.1 times Medicaid spending on home and community based long-term care services.
Scott got a job at Hawaii Pacific University as associate director of admissions and head coach of the men's soccer team. Shayne began working as an administrative assistant with the American Diabetes Association.
Shayne said her employer gave her the flexibility to take her grandmother to her doctor visits and other appointments. But she quit in 2003 when the couple's daughter was born. If she were still working, Shayne said she would have to take leaves of absence when her grandmother, 91, was admitted into the hospital for injuries or difficulties with her health.
The need to continue caring for her grandmother limits Shayne's future employment opportunities.
"I realize staying home takes away a lot of business potential. But it's something I chose to do," she said.
The report says the cost of funding more services and supports for caregivers is small compared to the value of their contributions and recommends a number of measures to prevent caregivers from being overwhelmed.
They include allowing family caregivers to be paid for the service they provide, providing a tax credit for caregiving and implementing "family-friendly" policies in the workplace.