40 Caregiver Statistics That Reveal A Dire Situation

Whether you’re a caregiver yourself, have a loved one who needs care, or are just interested in understanding the landscape of senior care, this article aims to provide you with the statistics, data, and insights you need to navigate the complex world of caregiving.

General Caregiver Facts & Statistics

All statistics and data in this section are sourced from AARP and National Alliance for Caregiving’s report on Caregiving in the United States 2020.

There are approximately 53 million caregivers in the US.

There are an estimated 53 million caregivers that have provided care to an adult or child with special needs (according to 2020 data).

It’s interesting to see just how many individuals have taken on the role of caregiver, often in addition to other personal and professional responsibilities. 2020’s number of caregivers is substantially more than 43.5 million caregivers reported in 2015.

More than 1 in 5 Americans are caregivers.

In 2020, a whopping one in five Americans took on a caregiving roll. That’s 21.3% of the total population — that’s a lot of people!

It’s a reminder that caregiving is a common experience, something that many of us will take on at some point in our lives. It’s a role that deserves recognition and support.

There are nearly 48 million caregivers caring for someone over the age of 18.

This means that over 90% of caregivers reported in the US are caring for individuals over the age of 18, with 10% caring for children with special needs who are under 18.

Nearly 1 in 5 (19%) are providing unpaid care to an adult with health or functional needs.

Isn’t it incredible? Almost 20% of folks are rolling up their sleeves and taking on the role of unpaid caregivers, showing the sheer size of heart that exists in our society.

This high percentage reflects the aging population in the U.S. and underscores the immense value of these unpaid caregivers in our healthcare system.

24% of caregivers in the US are caring for more than one person.

This really speaks to the growing demands on caregivers. The increase from 2015 (18%) to 2020 (24%) suggests that many caregivers are juggling the needs of multiple people. This can be a tremendous responsibility, and we can’t overlook the need for support and resources for these superhero caregivers.

26% of family caregivers have had difficulty coordinating care.

The fact that so many are struggling to coordinate family care for a loved one indicates that the healthcare system and support services aren’t meeting the needs of caregivers.

26% of Americans in 2020 reported caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

As the population ages, conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia are becoming more prevalent. Just 22% reported caring for people with Alzheimer’s in 2015, which has since increased to 26% in 2020.

This 4% increase over a relatively short period of time signals the need for more specialized training and resources for caregivers dealing with these challenging conditions, as well as efforts to support research and therapies for these diseases.

61% of family caregivers are also working.

More than half of caregivers are balancing traditional employment with their caregiving duties!

This double duty that many caregivers are pulling is extremely challenging and greatly introduces the potential for burnout.

It’s a call to employers to consider how they can support employees who are caregivers and ensure that they’re able to balance these important responsibilities.

28% of caregivers have used paid help.

The majority of caregivers do not use paid help, making the burden that much more stressful and challenging.

24% of caregivers provide care for 5 years or more.

Almost a quarter of caregivers are in it for the long haul, providing care for 5 years or more. And, the average caregiver has been caring for their loved one for an average of 4.5 years.

That’s a big commitment! It shows that caregiving isn’t just a temporary gig for many people – it’s a long-term part of their lives. It’s a reminder that we need to think about how to support caregivers not just in the short term, but over the long term, too.

And — coupled with the fact that most caregivers need to cut back on hours or sacrifice promotions due to their caregiving responsibilities for years upon years, it’s easy to see how quickly caregivers become severely disadvantaged in the workplace.

24% of caregivers are in the sandwich generation, meaning they care for children as well as an adult.

Those in the sandwich generation care for children under 18 as well as provide care for an adult. The fact that nearly a quarter of caregivers are part of the “sandwich generation” is a significant observation.

These individuals are caught in a challenging position, providing care for both their children and an adult, often an aging parent.

This dual responsibility can lead to a unique set of challenges. They may face financial strain due to the costs associated with their dual-care responsibilities, as well as the added burden of emotional stress.

Caregivers spend an average of 23.7 hours per week providing care, with 32% providing care for 21 hours or more per week.

The average time caregivers spend providing care is substantial, nearly equivalent to a part-time job.

This data illustrates the significant time commitment involved in caregiving, which can impact other areas of caregivers’ lives, including their employment, personal time, and overall well-being.

This also underscores the need for supportive measures such as paid family leave and caregiver respite programs, which can provide caregivers with much-needed breaks and help prevent burnout.

Family caregivers provide an estimated value of $600 billion in “free,” care for older adults.

Source: Reinhard, S (2023) Valuing the Invaluable 2023 Update

Family caregivers offer an invaluable service, often without any financial compensation. When we consider the care they provide for older adults, it’s estimated that the monetary equivalent of their efforts amounts to a staggering $600 billion per year (according to 2021 data).

This $600 billion estimated it based on roughly 38 million caregivers providing an average of 18 hours of care per week — this equates to 36 billion hours of care, at an average value of $16.59 per hour.

And this doesn’t even account for the financial cost of care, like out-of-pocket purchases and lost wages. This $600 billion estimate for 2021 is up from $470 billion in 2017 and continues a 25-year increase trend.

This data also reinforces other studies that have found that the value of unpaid family care is vastly more expensive than the value of paid home care.

Up to 70% of family caregivers manage medications for their loved ones.

Source: Caregiver Action Network (National Family Caregivers Association) 

This highlights the complex and often medical nature of caregiving tasks, requiring a certain level of medical knowledge and understanding, such as knowing the correct dosages, managing schedules for medication, and being aware of potential side effects or interactions.

It seems smart to focus on providing adequate training and resources for caregivers, so that they can manage these tasks effectively and safely. This data also shows the necessity for healthcare professionals to support caregivers in their role as a crucial part of a loved one’s care team.

By the year 2034, adults ages 65 and older will outnumber children under the age of 18.

Source: Reinhard, S (2023) Valuing the Invaluable 2023 Update

Additionally, the share of potential caregivers is projected to continue shrinking relative to the number of older adults at risk for needing long-term care.

Wow — so by 2034, we’ll have more folks over 65 than kids under 18. That’s a first!

It’s a sign of how our population is changing, with people living longer and families having fewer kids. But it also means we’re going to see a big shift in our needs as a society.

Think about it. More older adults could mean more people needing care, right at a time when there are fewer young people to provide it. That’s a challenge, no doubt about it. It’s going to mean rethinking how we provide care, and making sure we have the resources and policies in place to support our aging population.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Older adults bring a lot to the table – wisdom, experience, not to mention a whole lot of potential babysitters! And with the right support, many older adults can continue to live independently and contribute to their communities.

So, while this shift in our population is definitely going to shake things up, it’s also an opportunity. An opportunity to rethink how we care for each other, and to create a society where people of all ages can thrive.

Caregiving Demographic Data

All statistics and data in this section are sourced from AARP and National Alliance for Caregiving’s report on Caregiving in the United States 2020 (unless otherwise sourced).

Boomers make up 34% of caregivers in the United States.

Boomers, representing 34% of caregivers, are a big part of the caregiving picture. It’s a reminder that caregiving isn’t just something that younger people do – it’s a role that many of us will take on as we age.

And as the boomer generation gets older, we might see even more boomers stepping into this role.

25% of caregivers are Millennials.

While the average age of caregivers is 49.4 years, a quarter of all US-caregivers are reportedly Millennials (ages 18-34). With their unique perspectives and experiences, they might bring new ideas and approaches to caregiving.

Family caregiving spans across all generations, including Boomers, Gen-X, Gen-Z, Millennials, and Silent.

This is an important reminder that caregiving isn’t confined to one age group or generation – it’s a universal act that crosses all lines. Each generation might face unique challenges and benefits when it comes to caregiving.

Asian caregivers tend to be the oldest with an average age of 49.3 years.

Interestingly, Hispanic caregivers are generally younger than Black and Asian caregivers with an average age of 43.3 years, while African American caregivers have an average age of 47.7 years.

Interesting, right? Asian caregivers, on average, are a bit older, clocking in at around 49.3 years. This could mean a couple of things. Maybe it’s cultural, with older family members stepping up to take care of their elders.

Or it could be a reflection of longer life expectancies in Asian populations. Either way, it’s a reminder that caregiving isn’t just a young person’s game. It’s something that touches us at all stages of life.

African American caregivers are more often in a high-intensity care situation, providing 31.2 hours of care weekly.

Wow, African American caregivers are really putting in the hours, with an average of 31.2 hours of care each week. That’s almost like a full-time job on top of whatever else they’re doing!

It’s a testament to their dedication, but it also highlights the need for more support and resources. No one should have to shoulder such a heavy load on their own.

Meanwhile, Asian caregivers are typically in a moderate intensity care situation, performing 24.1 hours of care each week. Hispanic caregivers generally provide care for 26 hours a week.

More Asian caregivers find their role highly emotionally stressful than either African American or Hispanic caregivers.

It seems like Asian caregivers are feeling the emotional weight of their role a bit more than their African American or Hispanic counterparts.

This could be due to certain cultural expectations, or perhaps the types of care they’re providing. It’s a reminder that caregiving isn’t just physically demanding – it can be a real emotional rollercoaster, too.

It’s interesting to note that a majority of Asian caregivers also feel that they had no choice in taking on their caregiving responsibility, and seem to have less satisfaction in the role than other minorities.

It can definitely be overwhelming and depressing to feel that a giant responsibility has been hoisted upon you that you may not have felt ready for.

About half of African American caregivers feel they had no choice in taking on their role.

This one’s a bit of a heartbreaker. About half of African American caregivers feel like they didn’t have a choice in becoming caregivers.

That’s a big deal. It speaks to the lack of options and support many people face when a loved one needs care.

The good news is that the majority of African American caregivers find a sense of purpose or meaning in that role. Hispanic caregivers have also been shown to feel their caregiver role gives them a sense of purpose or meaning in life—more so than non-Hispanic white or Asian caregivers.

Regardless of why, the fact that so many feel that becoming a caregiver isn’t something they have choice in is a wake-up call that we need to do better in providing affordable, accessible care options so that no one feels backed into a corner. No matter how much you love a family member, caregiving just isn’t for everyone!

Most Hispanic caregivers report a moderate-to-high level of physical strain due to caregiving (more than non-Hispanic whites and Asians).

Yikes! Most Hispanic caregivers are dealing with a pretty hefty amount of physical strain from their caregiving duties — and that’s more than non-Hispanic whites and Asians.

This could be due to the types of care they’re providing (perhaps more critical care for disabled elders) or may be due to a lack of physical support and resources.

It’s a stark reminder that caregiving can be a real workout (and not in a fun, gym-rat kind of way). We need to make sure caregivers have the tools and support they need to take care of themselves while they’re taking care of others.

Asian caregivers are the most likely to access caregiving help or information — Hispanic caregivers are least likely.

Hispanic caregivers report the fewest sources of caregiving help or information — just 1.4 on average compared to Asian caregivers 2.3 average — getting information from doctors or other health care professionals or from friends and family less often than others.

Isn’t it interesting that Asian caregivers are the ones most likely to reach out for help or information? It could be that they’re more aware of the resources available, or maybe they’re just more comfortable asking for help.

On the flip side, Hispanic caregivers aren’t reaching out as much. This could be due to lack of awareness, language barriers, or the fact that Hispanic caregivers less often have health insurance, making coordination doctors and health professionals more challenging.

48% of Hispanic caregivers live with the person they provide care for.

Almost half of Hispanic caregivers are living with the person they’re caring for. That’s a lot of shared space!

It could be a cultural thing, or maybe it’s just the most practical way to provide care.

But it also means these caregivers might not get much downtime. Living with the person you’re caring for can blur the lines between ‘caregiving time’ and ‘me time’. It’s a reminder that caregivers need their own space to recharge, too.

LGBTQ family caregivers make up roughly 9% of all caregivers in the US.

Source: Reinhard, S (2023) Valuing the Invaluable 2023 Update

Being an LGBTQ caregiver can come with its own unique challenges — they might face discrimination or lack of understanding from healthcare providers.

Or they might even be caring for a partner or friend who isn’t legally recognized as family (talk about a frustrating situation).

But on the flip side, LGBTQ caregivers also bring unique strengths to their roles. They’re often part of tight-knit communities that can provide support and understanding. And their experiences navigating life as LGBTQ individuals can give them resilience and adaptability that’s a real asset in caregiving.

Caregiving Effects on Physical & Mental Health

23% of Americans say that caregiving has made their own health worse.

Source: AARP and National Alliance for Caregiving. Caregiving in the United States 2020.

This is a heartbreaking stat, showing that while caregivers are focused on the health of others, their own health may be suffering.

Caregivers can suffer the emotional burdens of watching a loved one’s mental decline and dealing with the often-frustrating behaviors that accompany dementia, as well as the physical toll of moving and lifting another human.

Only 17% of Americans said caregiving made their health worse in 2015, so the burdens may be piling up. This trend underscores the importance of providing health and wellness support for caregivers, not just those they care for.

36% of caregivers describe their situation as highly stressful.

Source: AARP and National Alliance for Caregiving. Caregiving in the United States 2020.

Unsurprisingly, over a third of caregivers describe their situation as “highly stressful” — a stark reminder of the emotional toll caregiving can take.

This stress can stem from various sources, including the physical demands of providing care, the emotional strain of seeing a loved one in need, and the challenge of balancing caregiving with other personal and professional responsibilities.

40%- 70% of family caregivers have symptoms of depression.

Source: Zarit, S. (2006). Assessment of Family Caregivers: A Research Perspective

One 2006 study found that 40%-70% of family caregivers have clinically significant symptoms of depression, and approximately a quarter to half of these caregivers meet the diagnostic criteria for major depression.

The Price Caregiving for Women

Over 60% of caregivers are women.

Source: AARP and National Alliance for Caregiving. Caregiving in the United States 2020.

It’s not surprising that 60% of caregivers are women, as care and support roles have long been delegated to the fairer sex. However, this highlights the need for support targeted specifically at women caregivers.

Things like flexible work policies, respite care, and emotional support can make a big difference.

61% of caregivers have had to cut back on hours or take a leave of absence due to caregiving responsibilities.

Source: AARP

Over half of family caregivers have had to make work accommodations due to caregiving, requiring them to take actions like reducing work hours or taking a leave of absence. Some have even suffered a warning about performance or attendance due to their caregiving efforts.

The fact that most caregivers have had to cut back on hours or take a leave of absence due to caregiving responsibilities really shines a light on how caregiving can impact a person’s career, especially for women.

Since over 60% of caregivers are women, they’re often the ones juggling these responsibilities alongside their jobs.

This juggling act can put women at a disadvantage in the workplace. They might have to pass up on opportunities for overtime or extra grinding hours for special projects, in turn leading to fewer promotions, because they need to rush home to take care of a loved one.

Or they might need to choose jobs that offer more flexibility, even if they pay less. This isn’t just about individual choices – it’s a systemic issue that can contribute to the gender pay gap.

And let’s not forget, this care work is often undervalued because it’s unpaid. But just because it’s unpaid doesn’t mean it’s not work. It’s time-consuming, it’s demanding, and it requires a whole lot of skills.

So, while women are stepping up to provide care for their loved ones, we as a society need to step up, too. We need workplace policies that recognize and support the dual roles many women are playing.

Things like paid family leave, flexible work hours, and caregiver support programs can go a long way in making sure women aren’t penalized for their caregiving responsibilities.

In the end, it’s about recognizing that caregiving is a crucial part of our lives and our economy. And it’s about making sure that everyone – regardless of their gender – can balance their caregiving responsibilities with their careers.

Women are more likely to leave their jobs completely than to reduce hours at work due to caregiving responsibilities.

Source: MetLife Study of Caregiving Costs to Working Caregivers 2011

In addition to the fact that (according to a MetLife 2011 study) around one-third of caregivers leave the workforce or reduce hours at work, women are more likely to leave their jobs completely than to reduce hours at work due to caregiving responsibilities

The estimated total wage loss due to caregiving averages $303,880 for a typical caregiver.

Source: MetLife Study of Caregiving Costs to Working Caregivers 2011

It’s estimated that total wage, Social Security, and private pension losses due to caregiving averages around $303,880 for a typical caregiver. However, it’s worse for women. Women lose an average of $324,044, while it’s just $283,716 for men.

What Does a Caregiver Household Look Like?

51% of care recipients live in their own home, 29% live with their family caregiver, and 4% live in nursing homes and assisted living.

Source: National Alliance for Caregiving in collaboration with AARP. November 2009

Over half of folks receiving care are doing so in their own homes. That’s pretty cool, right?

A lot of people are able to get the care they need without having to leave the comfort of their own space (which can be a huge quality of life factor for many seniors). But it also means that caregivers often have to adapt to providing care in a home setting, which can come with its own set of challenges.

1.4 million children ages 8-18 provide care for an adult relative; 72% are caring for a parent or grandparent; and 64% live in the same household as their care recipient.

Source: Caregiver Action Network

This statistic reveals the often overlooked reality that children can also serve as caregivers. It’s noteworthy that the majority of these young caregivers are caring for a parent or grandparent and live in the same household as their care recipient. Fortunately, most are not the sole caregiver.

This caregiving role can have profound impacts on a child’s life, affecting their education, social development, and mental health. While it’s good that most are not the sole caregiver, the statistic still underscores the need for support systems specifically designed for young caregivers, such as counseling services, peer support groups, and educational accommodations.

78% of adults receiving long-term care rely solely on informal help, most often provided by family members (e.g., wives and adult daughters)

Source: National Center on Caregiving

Additionally, 14% receive a combination of family care and paid assistance while only 8% rely exclusively on formal care.

The common reliance on informal care can be attributed to a few different factors — most likely the high costs of professional care and the desire of many older adults to remain in their homes.

However, this heavy reliance on family caregivers can also place a significant burden on these individuals, affecting their physical, emotional, and financial well-being.

30% of family caregivers of older Americans lived in a household that also includes children or grandchildren.

Source: Reinhard, Susan C (2023). Valuing the Invaluable 2023 Update

Wow, 30% of family caregivers are living in a household with kids or grandkids. That’s a lot of generations under one roof!

Clearly caregivers are juggling multiple roles at once – parent, grandparent, and caregiver. It can be a lot to handle, but it can also create a rich, intergenerational living situation where everyone learns from each other.

Caregiving Direct Care Workforce Statistics

The direct care workforce is expected to grow from 4.6 million in 2019 to 5.9 million by 2028.

Source: Reinhard, Susan C (2023). Valuing the Invaluable 2023 Update

The direct care workforce is on the rise, expected to grow over 28% from 2019 to 2028. That’s a lot of people dedicating their careers to caring for others! It’s a sign of the growing demand for care as our population ages — and the importance of this work.

As more and more people step into these roles, it’s crucial that we support them with fair wages, good working conditions, and the respect they deserve.

The field of direct care workforce has an average turnover rate of 40-60% each year.

Source: Reinhard, Susan C (2023). Valuing the Invaluable 2023 Update

Yikes — a turnover rate of 40-60% each year is not good.

Maybe the high turnover is due to the challenging nature of the work, or maybe it’s due to issues like low pay or lack of support. Either way, as a large subset of the population ages, we’ll need to do more to support these workers and make these roles more sustainable.

A total of 45 states and territories now have CARE Act laws in place.

Source: Reinhard, Susan C (2023). Valuing the Invaluable 2023 Update

And here’s some good news – 45 states and territories now have CARE Act laws in place. These laws are designed to support family caregivers when their relatives go into the hospital, and as they transition back home after hospital stays.

They make sure caregivers are recognized, informed, and instructed, which can make a big difference in the care their loved ones receive.

It’s a sign of progress, but there’s still work to be done. Let’s keep pushing for policies that support caregivers in every state!


  • AARP and National Alliance for Caregiving. Caregiving in the United States 2020. Washington, DC: AARP. May 2020. https://doi.org/10.26419/ppi.00103.001
  • National Alliance for Caregiving. Caregiving in the U.S. 2009. Washington, DC: AARP Research, December 2009. https://doi.org/10.26419/res.00062.001
  • Reinhard, Susan C., Selena Caldera, Ari Houser, and Rita B. Choula. Valuing the Invaluable 2023 Update: Strengthening Supports for Family Caregivers. Washington, DC: AARP Public Policy Institute. March 8, 2023. https://doi.org/10.26419/ppi.00082.006
  • Caregiver Action Network (National Family Caregivers Association) 
    Insight into the activities, concerns and interests of higher-burden family caregivers, October 2012. https://www.caregiveraction.org/resources/caregiver-statistics
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  • Zarit, S. (2006). Assessment of Family Caregivers: A Research Perspective. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/285263511_Assessment_of_family_caregivers_A_research_perspective
  • https://www.caregiveraction.org/resources/caregiver-statistics
  • https://www.purdue.edu/hhs/hdfs/fii/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/s_mifis09c03.pdf
  • https://www.caregiving.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/mmi-caregiving-costs-working-caregivers.pdf
  • https://www.aarp.org/ppi/info-2015/caregiving-in-the-united-states-2015.html
  • https://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/ppi/2020/05/full-report-caregiving-in-the-united-states.doi.10.26419-2Fppi.00103.001.pdf

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