by Annmarie Timmins, New Hampshire Bulletin
Nearly 168,000 Granite Staters were providing critical home-based care to older people or adults with a serious health condition in 2021, according to AARP’s latest update to its “Valuing the Invaluable” report.
An estimated 30 percent of them were simultaneously caring for children or grandchildren, and nearly three out of five caregivers are also working, the report said. Meanwhile others leave the workforce to offer that care.
That is a drop from the 177,000 family caregivers counted in the prior report, released in 2019. But they are providing more hours of uncompensated care. AARP put the value of that care at $2.8 billion in 2021, up $500 million since 2019. The cost is based on a $17.96 hourly wage, which is calculated using the average of the state minimum wage, state home health aide median wage, and state median hourly cost of hiring a home care worker.
The numbers are comparable to similarly sized states, including Maine, which had 166,000 family caregivers in 2021 providing $2.9 billion in uncompensated care, according to the report.
The care they provide ranges from help with daily living tasks like eating, using the toilet, and bathing to more complex care, such as managing medication, caring for wounds, and giving injections. It’s the kind of care that allows older people and those with chronic conditions or disabilities to remain at home and in their communities.
Often caregivers are also navigating a complicated and disconnected system of services and assistance for their loved ones, the report said.
AARP New Hampshire is looking to Senate Bill 36 to relieve the demands on family caregivers and increase quality of life for their loved ones. The bill would make significant investments in care for aging Granite Staters, including offering more affordable options for in-home care, increasing rates to caregivers who receive some compensation, and making it easier to find and apply for services. The bill, sponsored by a bipartisan group of 13 senators, is scheduled for a vote by the full Senate next week. If it passes, it will head to the House.
“Family caregivers play a vital role in New Hampshire’s health care system, whether they care for someone at home, coordinate home health care, or help care for someone who lives in a nursing home,” Christina FitzPatrick, AARP New Hampshire state director, said in a statement. “We want to make sure all family caregivers have the financial, emotional, and social support they need, because the care they provide is invaluable both to those receiving it and to their community.”
This story was written by Annmarie Timmins, Senior Reporter at the New Hampshire Bulletin, where this story first appeared.
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