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CAREGIVINGANDCAREGIVERS… In the United States today there are approximately 50 million people who are caring at home for family members including elderly parents, spouses, and children with disabilities and/or chronic illnesses. Without this home-care, most of these cared for loved ones would require permanent placement in institutions or health care facilities at great cost to society.

Close to 80% of all long-term care is now provided at home by family caregivers to children and adults with serious conditions… Parents and family caregivers are the backbone of the long-term care system and save health-care insurers and governments billions of dollars annually. The value of the services family caregivers provide for "free" is estimated to be $306 billion a year. That is almost twice as much as is actually spent on homecare and nursing home services combined ($158 billion).

According to a November, 2007 survey on family caregiving, most family caregivers feel more positive about their experiences than they did just before they took on the responsibility.

The survey also found that: Sixty percent of the caregivers called the experience "very or extremely rewarding," a 50% jump over the number of caregivers who thought in advance they would find the experience "very or extremely rewarding." Nearly 80% of the caregivers found the experience to be at least "rewarding," an increase of more than one-third from initial expectation. A majority of the caregivers - nearly 54% - formed a stronger bond with the patient during the time they were together. Almost 60% of the respondents reported an improvement in the quality of their relationship with the person for whom they cared. Social activities of the caregiver tend to diminish. The diminished social activities are replaced with an increased quality of relationship with the care recipient. More than 2/3 of all caregivers (68.7%) said they enjoy the tasks associated with caregiving. Prior to assuming the role, fewer than half (45.5%) thought they would enjoy caregiving. More than ¾ of caregivers are female. Nearly ¾ range in age from 35 to 59.

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