Lynn Friss Feinberg, MSW, is a senior strategic policy advisor for the AARP Public Policy Institute. She has conducted policy analysis and applied research on family caregiving and long-term services and supports for more than 30 years.

The Financial Costs of Family Caregiving: A Stark Reality

Families and close friends are the most important source of support to older people and adults with a chronic, disabling or serious health condition. They already take personal responsibility for providing increasingly complex care to the tune of $470 billion (as of 2013). That figure, representing family caregivers’ unpaid contribution in dollars, roughly equals the combined sales of the four largest U.S. tech companies (Apple, IBM, Hewlett Packard and Microsoft, $469 billion) in 2013. The out-of-pocket hit Caregiving families feel …

High Anxiety: Paying for the Costs of Care

My almost 96-year-old mother is one of about half of older adults with disabilities serious enough to need long-term services and supports. She is nearly blind, has dementia and osteoporosis, and suffers from arthritis. Recently she’s begun to experience back pain too. She lived in her home of over 50 years until it was damaged during Hurricane Sandy. For the past four years she has been living in an assisted living facility in New Jersey, in the community she prefers. …

Changing the Way We Look at Families Caring for an Aging America

While family caregiving is an intensely personal issue, it is critically important to the well-being of our aging U.S. population, families and society — and must be taken seriously as a critical issue of public policy. That’s according to a recent report on family caregiving for older adults from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The report, developed and authored by a 19-member expert committee of which I was a member, highlights the shortcoming of both the health …

The National Family Caregiver Support Program: Recognizing Family Caregivers as Consumers in Their Own Right

A recent study on the pioneering National Family Caregiver Support Program finds that over the past 15 years, the program has accelerated the development of local services and supports to help caregiving families. This is good news; before the NFCSP became law, only half the states reported providing respite care — one of the most pressing needs of families and friends who take on the caregiving role.  That has begun to change, although greater progress needs to be made. Landmark …

Eldercare Primarily Concerns Older Workers and Their Employers, Right? Think Again

For employers big and small, the need to support workers who also provide unpaid care for a family member is a growing reality. Most family caregivers today — or an estimated 23.9 million workers — work at a paying job on top of their caregiving responsibilities. Yet today, care for a relative with a serious illness or disability takes place in a very different world from that of our grandparents’ generation.  To start, the role of family caregivers has greatly …

Everyone Needs a Break Sometimes—Especially Family Caregivers

Respite is one of the most pressing needs of families and friends who take on a caregiving role. The need for caregiver supportive services — including respite care — is only going to rise as the U.S. population ages. Respite care provides temporary relief from the daily stress of caregiving, such as living with and caring for a grandfather with advanced Alzheimer’s disease. The purpose of respite care is to give the family caregiver time away — to get a …