About one in four US adults provided unpaid care for a sick or disabled family member at home in 2009, and AARP estimates the dollar value to be $450 billion, the AP reports. These 42.1 million people provided an average of 18.4 hours of care per week, up 9% from the previous study in 2007. Instead of seeing themselves as "caregivers," they “describe what they do in terms of their relationship with the other person: as a husband, wife, partner, daughter, daughter-in-law, son, grandson, niece, or close friend, for example," said the study.
The study found the average caregiver to be a 49-year-old woman who still works a full-time job and cares for her mother about five years. "The 2009 estimate of the value of family caregiving is conservative," the study said, "because it does not quantify the physical, emotional, and financial costs of care." (Read more AARP stories.)