Michelle Singletary
Long-term senior care straining families (Thinkstock)

Michelle Singletary, in her Washington Post/Bloomberg News column, cites an important new study by the AARP that says if families caring for elderly relatives with chronic conditions or disabilities don't receive financial support, taxpayers could end up bearing the costs.

America is facing a crisis that will make the federal budget deficit look like a simple bank overdraft fee.


If we don't figure out how to provide financial support to the millions of family members who are taking care of seniors with chronic conditions or disabilities, we will have caregivers so overwhelmed that they will be forced to stop helping their elderly relatives. That cost of care will then transfer to the government, and this would mean astronomically higher health-care costs or more people being placed in nursing homes, according to a new report from the AARP Public Policy Institute.

In 2009, about 42.1 million family caregivers provided assistance to adults with limitations in daily activities, such as going to the bathroom, preparing meals or making it to a doctor's appointment. The AARP report estimates the economic value of family caregiving that year at $450 billion, based on those 42.1 million caregivers ages 18 or older who provide about 18.4 hours of care per week at an average value of $11.16 per hour.

Read Michelle Singletary's complete column at the Washington Post/Bloomberg News.

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