As we enter November, we are proud to join the nation in celebrating the 26th annual nationally recognized National Family Caregivers Month (NFCM). It's a time to honor and support the unsung heroes of our healthcare system and society—family caregivers. The critical work of family caregivers has long been in the shadows, and Givers is honored to be one of the few organizations leading them into the well-deserved spotlight.
Last counted before the pandemic, there are at least 53 million Americans who dedicated themselves to providing unpaid care to their loved ones. Today, they contribute an astounding $600 billion worth of unpaid care each year. These are not just numbers; they represent the heart and soul of caregiving, a selfless act of love and compassion.
Family caregivers are not a separate group; they're our neighbors, our retail associates, our public servants, and our loved ones. Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter famously said, "There are only four kinds of people in this world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver."
Our annual National Family Caregivers Month 2023 Report, titled "The Current State of Family Caregiving 2023," offers a snapshot of unpaid family caregivers' experiences this year.
The theme for 2023’s NFCM is "#CaregiversConnect," emphasizing the importance of connection to information, support, and each other. The goal of our report is to create opportunities for #CaregiversConnect in the coming year.
Much has changed in the last year, including inflation, a new post-COVID normal, the labor market, wages, and more. This report highlights the increasing impacts that family caregivers are facing, focusing on the following areas:
Our report is based on a comprehensive nationwide survey conducted in October 2023. We gathered responses from 1,007 caregivers aged 18 and older. These caregivers provide unpaid care to someone who cannot care for themselves or needs assistance.
The statistics from our research are eye-opening.
41% of caregivers report being financially strained, up significantly from 18% in 2020. More than 1 in 3 caregivers have reduced income (15% in 2020), taken on debt (23% in 2020), and/or stopped saving (28% in 2020). Despite 86% of caregivers saying they enjoy caring for their loved ones, 55% say that the financial toll is the number one barrier standing in the way of providing care further into the future.
3 in 4 caregivers have a relationship with their loved one's doctor, 84% play a role in making healthcare decisions for their loved one, and 84% notice health changes in their care recipients before a healthcare professional. Caregivers want to engage—1 in 2 would share insights about their loved one directly with health plans if they were paid an incentive to do it.
2 in 3 caregivers say that caregiving is a top three issue for their family. There is work to be done to help caregivers connect to resources for caregivers. We asked family caregivers their number 1 barrier to accessing support: 40% are unaware of programs, 30% find it too challenging to navigate eligibility, and 22% find applications too cumbersome.
Givers envisions a world in which all family caregivers are fairly compensated for the work that they do. We’re making progress: Givers currently reaches 1 million families a year, and helps 15,000 find support every single month. As Givers and the systems around us evolve, we believe that this is just the beginning.
The lasting learnings and policies resulting from the pandemic will help #CaregiversConnect to much-needed and earned support. States used the public health emergency (PHE) authorities to strengthen their Medicaid Home and Community Based Support HCBS and family caregiver support programs, and 48 states kept their waivers to pay family caregivers after the PHE ended in May of 2023. As a byproduct, Self-Direction Enrollment is the fastest-growing Medicaid Long Term Services and Supports, with enrollment in some states growing 1,000%.
We're encouraged by this progress, and still, the current system of paying family caregivers is inefficient. Caregivers need help finding, navigating, and enrolling in programs, and organizations need help reaching caregivers and dealing with staffing issues.
Givers is on a mission to make this process more efficient on both sides. Our platform creates better experiences and outcomes, leading to more programs and dollars flowing to family members. It is the flywheel that we aim to create to spur change in our society.
We're equally excited to join the conversation around the new bipartisan legislation, the Alleviating Barriers for Caregivers Act. The bill seeks to simplify the application process, improve communication between caregivers and agencies, and provide education and training for employees handling disputes within these programs—a significant step towards supporting family caregivers in managing the financial and healthcare needs of their loved ones. We will be speaking with relevant congresspeople advocating on behalf of family caregivers in the coming months.
As we celebrate National Family Caregivers Month, let's reflect on the invaluable contributions of family caregivers and look forward to a future where they receive the financial, healthcare, and emotional support they deserve. Together, we can empower and honor the family caregivers who keep our communities and families strong.
Stay tuned for more insights from our research as we celebrate National Family Caregivers Month. We're optimistic about the year ahead in our journey to empower family caregivers.
Founder & CEO, Givers