Valuing the Invaluable: The Growing Contributions and Costs of Family Caregiving is a new study by the AARP that estimates a value of $450 billion a year for work done by more than 40 million Americans caring for an elderly or disabled loved one. That may be a bargain for society, but it’s a “huge” burden on the family members.
Cymando Henley’s mom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis as he started college. Now she’s in a wheelchair, and Henley has been taking care of her ever since – for nearly twenty years now – helping her in and out of bed and onto the toilet, and even rolling her over in the middle of the night if she gets uncomfortable. Social programs help pay for about 35 hours a week of in-home health care, but Henley puts in at least that much himself for free, on top of working at a full-time job. Such non-medical care from a professional can cost tens of thousands of dollars a year.