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Caregiving: A Family Affair in Illinois

December 4, 2008

Chicago, Illinois –It's a role many don't expect to take on, but when they're needed, they do. An increasing number of Illinois residents are stepping in to help loved ones in need. A new AARP report finds the value of unpaid family caregiving in the state is more than $17 billion, an increase of more than $1 billion since 2006.

AARP Illinois Advocacy Manager Nancy Nelson says, given the current economic crisis, many families have no other choice.

"It's just an invaluable support to families. Family caregivers not only give their time but they also give money, and it takes away some of their economic security."

Nelson says family caregivers often are stretched financially after they are forced to adjust their employment situation.

"They might have to cut back their hours. And sometimes people have to quit their jobs to take care of their aging family members. That means they are not collecting any retirement; they may even be dipping into their savings."

According to the report, informal caregivers for people age 50-plus spent more than $5,000 out-of-pocket on average last year to care for their loved ones.

Among the report's several recommendations to assist caregivers are adopting family-friendly workplace policies and expanding funding for the National Family Caregiver Support Program and the Lifespan Respite Care Act.

Mary Kuhlman/Steve Powers, Public News Service - IL