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Report: WA's Unpaid Family Caregivers Provide $16.8 Billion Value

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Friday, March 24, 2023   

Family caregivers provide valuable work to Washington state - even if they don't get paid. A new report puts a value to the unpaid work they do.

In 2021, the state had 820,000 family caregivers, according to a new AARP analysis. They provided an estimated $16.8 billion in economic value that year.

Cathy MacCaul, advocacy director for AARP Washington, said this report quantifies how important family caregivers are to the state.

"It really calls out and sings the praises of an unrecognized workforce that is so pivotal to our overall long-term care system," she said.

The report found that the value of that care provided to family members increased by $4.8 billion between 2019 and 2021 in Washington state.

Dana Allard-Webb manages Washington's Family Caregiver Support program, which offers services to help caregivers with their duties and to cope with the stress of the job, such as through respite care. She said it's hard for many to ask for help, but support from the program can be good for everyone involved.

"The calmer, more mentally and physically healthy a caregiver is, and the more educated they are," she said, "the better they're going to be able to care for that care receiver, and they'll be able to hopefully care for them longer."

According to the report, people age 65 and up will outnumber those younger than age 18 by 2034. MacCaul said it's important for policymakers to recognize the state's population is aging rapidly.

"There's really no way," she said, "that Washington state or the federal government would be able to compensate people or provide this level of care that unpaid family caregivers currently provide."

Disclosure: AARP Washington contributes to our fund for reporting on Consumer Issues, Health Issues, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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