October 19, 2022 (Salt Lake City) – About 1 in 5 Utahns (more than 400,000 Utah adults) care for a family member or friend with a serious health problem or disability, providing $5.1 billion worth of services annually. This is according to a report published today by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, done in partnership with the College of Nursing-led interdisciplinary Family Caregiving Collaborative, which details the economic contributions and health impacts of family caregiving in Utah. The research shows that by 2030, there may be more than 100,000 additional Utah family caregivers, as the need for caregiving grows along with a growing and aging population.
“The number of family caregivers is expected to outpace the state’s general population growth, largely in response to Utah’s aging population and the projected increase in health care difficulties individuals in the state are expected to experience over time,” said Michael Hogue, Gardner Institute Senior Research Statistician and lead author of the report. “While family caregiving provides a valuable service, caregivers experience worse mental and physical health compared to peer non-caregivers. Taken together, these findings mean more Utahns may require time, resources, and mental and physical health support to provide care to family members or friends with health problems or disabilities.”
“Our country is facing a growing demand for family caregivers and the wide range of care services they provide to care recipients. Family caregivers often go unrecognized, and thus are unsupported in maintaining their health and well-being. Family caregiving is acknowledged to be an impending public health crisis for our nation, and Utah is not exempt,” said Lee Ellington, Professor in the College of Nursing and Director of the Family Caregiving Collaborative. “The $5.1 billion worth of services caregivers provide depends on a healthy ‘workforce.’ Should this growing number of caregivers be unable to sustain care due to compromised mental or physical health, the costs of these unfulfilled services will be felt across our health care system.”
Key findings from the report include the following:
- 1 in 5 Utah adults are caregivers – Currently, 426,000 Utahns provide informal (primarily unpaid) care to family members or friends with health problems or disabilities.
- Number of caregivers expected to grow – The need for family caregivers is expected to grow faster than the overall population in Utah. By 2030, it is estimated that 115,000 additional Utahns will be family caregivers—an increase of nearly 30% over the next decade.
- Care valued at $5.1 billion – The care that Utah caregivers offer today is valued at $5.1 billion and is projected to exceed $6.5 billion in 2030.
- Family caregiving negatively impacts the health and well-being of caregivers – Family caregivers are more likely to report poor mental health than their peer group of non-caregivers. These caregivers are also more likely to report recent episodes of poor physical health compared to their non-caregiver peers. In many cases, the negative impact is worse for caregivers with children aged 18 or under living at home.
- Significant time spent – About 40% of Utah’s family caregivers provided care equivalent to a part-time or full-time job. Almost 1 in 3 family caregivers has provided family care for at least 5 years.
On November 8th, the Family Caregiving Collaborative is hosting the Family Caregiver Forum, where this report and other efforts will be discussed in more detail. Please click here for more information.
The full report is now available online.