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2023 Caregiver Statistics and Trends That Are Shaping the Family Caregiving Landscape

Written by Grace Styron
 about the author
11 minute readLast updated June 22, 2023
Reviewed by Erin MartinezDr. Erin Martinez is an associate professor of gerontology and director of the Center on Aging at Kansas State University. Martinez works to promote health and well-being across the lifespan to promote optimal aging and pursues community-based interventions for improving the social determinants of health.

Unpaid or informal family caregivers are the backbone of long-term care. Whether you’re a seasoned family caregiver or you expect to be one in the future, keeping up-to-date on caregiving statistics can certainly be beneficial. Not only can you grow more knowledgeable about what your fellow caregivers may be experiencing, you can use that knowledge to help educate your peers on things like the importance of caregiver health and how to access supportive senior care services. With that said, here’s what we know about family caregivers in the United States, according to the most recent data.

Key Takeaways

  1. There are over 40 million family caregivers in the United States. A family caregiver is any friend or relative taking on care responsibilities of an older adult with a health condition.
  2. Family caregiver prevalence varies by region. Rural locations tend to have a higher prevalence of caregivers than urban locations.
  3. Caregiving can have a serious impact on a caregiver’s health and well-being. Over half of caregivers experience clinically significant levels of stress, anxiety, or depression.
  4. Financial burden is a common factor among family caregivers. Most family caregivers are balancing a full- or part-time job in addition to about 20 hours per week of care duties.

Defining “family caregivers” and their prevalence in the U.S.

A family caregiver, also called an informal caregiver, is defined as any person, be it a friend, relative, or neighbor, who provides care for an older adult with a health condition or disability. As opposed to a formal caregiver, a family caregiver is not associated with a formal service system and typically has little to no prior care experience.
There were about 41.8 million caregivers caring for adults aged 50 and older in the U.S. in 2020, the most recent year for which data is available. That equates to one in every six Americans. Five years prior in 2015, there were about 34.2 million caregivers.[02] By 2030, there will be an estimated four times the number of family caregivers as older adults in the U.S.

The “sandwich generation”

“Sandwich generation” caregivers made up nearly 30% of family caregivers in 2019.[03] The term “sandwich generation” refers to people in their thirties to sixties who are more likely than other caregivers to be maintaining a job while attempting to take on the role of family caregiver. They may also be caring for children at home. They’re “sandwiched” between their children’s generation and their aging loved one’s generation.
Sandwich generation caregivers report higher levels of financial and emotional strain due to the fact they’re caring for two generations at once. This tension was heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic as these caregivers lost access to local programs, such as adult day services.

Rural vs. urban: Family caregiver prevalence by region

There’s not a lot of research on the prevalence of rural-urban disparities of the tens of millions of family caregivers in the U.S. However, as of 2022, rural areas in the U.S. have a higher population of older adults than urban areas. Rural areas also tend to have reduced access to support and care services, such as nonmedical home care, home health care, and assisted living communities. For this reason, these areas are more reliant on informal and family caregiving.[04]
Family members in rural areas are more likely to take on the role of caregiver than those in urban areas. This is largely because urban areas offer better access to various senior services, so families face less pressure to take on informal caregiving. Research also shows that caregivers in rural areas are more likely to provide at least 20 hours of caregiving per week.[04]

Family caregiver demographics

Most current research is on the gender, age, and racial diversity of family caregivers. Women of all races represent 65% of those acting as primary caregivers.[02] However, new research on family caregiver identity and sexual orientation is starting to appear, showing about 9% identify as LGBTQ+.[03]
Current family caregiver statistics, including those acting as secondary caregivers, by race are as follows:
  • 61% are non-Hispanic white
  • 17% are Latino/Hispanic
  • 14% are non-Hispanic African American or Black
  • 5% are Asian American or Pacific Islander
  • 3% identify with another race or ethnicity [02]
On average, caregivers of people aged 50+ are about 50.1 years old themselves. Roughly 20% of caregivers are aged 65 or older.[02] A further breakdown of family caregiver statistics by age follows:
  • 22% are aged 18-34
  • 22% are aged 35-49
  • 36% are aged 50-64
  • 13% are aged 65-74
  • 7% are aged 75 or older [02]

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Care recipient statistics

If you expect you may take on caregiving duties for an aging loved one in the future, learning general care recipient statistics can help you understand how your loved one’s situation compares to national averages. The sections below show details about common relationships between a caregiver and their recipient, what living situations are typical for care recipients, and conditions that are often reported as the reason for needing care.

Relationship to their caregiver

As of 2020, nearly 90% of care recipients are related to their caregiver in some way.[02] Other care recipient-to-caregiver relationships include the following:
  • 57% are a parent or parent-in-law
  • 10% are a grandparent or grandparent-in-law
  • 11% are a spouse or life partner
  • 5% are a sibling or sibling-in-law
  • 1% are an adult child
  • 5% are another form of relative
  • 11% are nonrelatives [02]

Living situation

Most care recipients live within about a 20-minute drive from their family caregiver. However, a care recipient’s living situation greatly depends on their health and care needs. For instance, older adults who are still fairly independent may be able to remain in their own homes and receive regular or infrequent visits from their caregivers. Those whose needs are more advanced are more likely to live in the same home as their caregiver.
Since 2015, the number of caregivers who have reported living with their care recipient has increased by about 5%. As of 2020, the living situations of care recipients age 50 and older are as follows:
  • 37% live in the caregiver’s household
  • 39% live within 20 minutes of their caregiver
  • 13% live 20 minutes to one hour from their caregiver
  • 11% live more than one hour from their caregiver [02]

Health conditions

As of 2020, the following reasons were reported as care recipients’ reasons for needing family care:
  • 66% have a long-term physical condition
  • 30% have a short-term physical condition
  • 35% have a condition that affects their memory
  • 24% have an emotional or mental health condition
  • 7% have behavioral issues
  • 6% have a developmental or intellectual disorder [02]
Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia make up about 28% of care recipients’ health conditions. Care recipients have also reported the following general problems as their reason for needing care:
  • General old age
  • Mobility issues
  • Surgery, wounds, or broken bones
  • Cancer
  • Stroke
  • Frequent falls
  • Arthritis and other joint or back problems
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Mental or emotional illness
  • Problems with their breathing
  • Blindness or problems with their vision [02]

Typical family caregiver responsibilities

Family caregiving responsibilities are similar to that of general home care duties and may include assisting their loved one with the following:
  • Getting in and out of chairs or a bed
  • Getting dressed and undressed
  • Using the restroom
  • Bathing and showering
  • Eating
  • Managing incontinence
  • Transportation
  • Grocery shopping and preparing meals
  • Household chores
  • Managing finances
  • Complicated medical or nursing tasks, such as medication management or wound care
  • Monitoring health conditions and learning when to make care adjustments
  • Communicating with their other health care professionals

Read related article:Your Guide to Home Care

How certain duties impact family caregivers’ health

A caregiver’s daily health is often affected by their numerous responsibilities, which can impact their ability to provide quality care. Many family caregivers are also grappling with their own serious health conditions, with about 57% having experienced clinically significant levels of stress, anxiety, or depression.[05]
In 2019, the following were reported as direct results of caregiving:
  • Just over 17% of caregivers reported about 14 days in a month where they experienced physical illness or injury.
  • 14.5% of caregivers reported about 14 days in a month where they experienced stress, depression, or some type of emotional problem.
  • Just over 36% of caregivers reported insufficient sleep, meaning less than seven hours of sleep in a 24-hour period.[06]
The health effects of caregiving don’t stop there. Many caregivers also have chronic diseases or disabilities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
  • About 40% of caregivers have at least two chronic diseases
  • Over 30% of caregivers have a disability
  • 14% of caregivers have had coronary heart disease and/or a stroke [06]
While chronic diseases and disabilities aren’t necessarily caused by performing caregiving duties, they can certainly be exacerbated by them. Because a caregiver’s focus is often on their care recipient, they often unintentionally neglect their own health needs.

Do caregivers have health care coverage?

Having health care coverage and attending routine check-ups can have a positive impact on a caregiver’s health status. Unfortunately, access to health care coverage can depend on a number of factors, including the caregiver’s age, race, and gender.
In 2019, 92.9% of caregivers aged 45 and older reported having some form of health care coverage. Of that percentage, the following also applied:
  • 98.9% were at least age 65
  • 94.3% identified as white
  • 89.1% identified as Black or African American
  • 85.2% identified as Hispanic
  • 94.1% identified as Asian or Pacific Islander [06]
Among caregivers aged 45 and older, 79.3% reported having a routine check-up in 2019. Of that percentage, the following also applied:
  • 80.9% were women
  • 76.8% were men
  • 78.2% identified as white
  • 85.0% identified as Black or African American
  • 78.6% identified as Hispanic
  • 90.4% identified as Asian or Pacific Islander [06]

Time vs. cost burden: The financial challenges of family caregiving

One in three caregivers has an annual household income of $50,000 through their primary job. In addition to working their regular job, about a third of caregivers provide at least 20 hours of care for their loved one per week, and over half of all caregivers have provided their services for at least two years.[07] And, while most caregivers focus their energy on just one person, about 24% of caregivers provide care to two or more adults at a time.[02]
Given this, it’s not surprising that 36% of caregivers have reported moderate to high levels of financial strain.[08]
Studies have found that the value of unpaid family caregiving vastly exceeds the value of paid home care. In 2019, the estimated economic value of family caregiving was about $470 billion.[03] Driving this total are factors like out-of-pocket expenses, lost work hours, and equivalency to current hourly wages.[09] In 2021, unpaid family caregivers collectively provided an estimated 36 billion hours of care, which was valued at $600 billion. That’s the equivalent of 4.1 million years spent providing care to a family member or friend.[03]
Between 2019 and 2021, the value of unpaid caregiver contributions increased by $130 billion.[10] Out-of-pocket expenses incurred by family caregivers can include the following:
  • Transportation
  • Medical costs, such as incontinence supplies and prescription medicines
  • Food and groceries
  • Higher utility bills
  • Home modifications, such as ramps or railings

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Solving key issues in the family caregiving field

By 2034, it’s estimated that adults aged 65 and older will outnumber children under 18 for the first time in the nation’s history. The U.S. population is also expected to become more racially and ethnically diverse, which will in turn affect caregiver demographics. These trends contribute to some of the most current key issues in the caregiving landscape, which include the following:
  • Finding a balance in the sandwich generation of caregivers
  • Meeting the needs of diverse care recipients
  • Post-pandemic shortages in the direct care workforce and their impact on family caregiving [03]
From amendments to Medicare and Medicaid policies to potentially mandated workplace flexibility policies, a range of initiatives are underway to address current issues in the informal family caregiving landscape.
One of these initiatives is the The National Strategy to Support Family Caregivers developed by the RAISE Act Family Caregiving Advisory Council and the Advisory Council to Support Grandparents Raising Grandchildren. This strategy was released in September 2022 and intends to help improve recognition of and support for family caregivers.
Its goals include:
  • Increasing awareness of and outreach to family caregivers
  • Advancing partnerships and engagement with family caregivers
  • Strengthening services and supports for family caregivers
  • Ensuring financial and workplace security for family caregivers
  • Expanding data, research, and evidence-based practices [03]

Support and tips for you and your loved one

As a caregiver, this is probably a lot of information for you to take in. Understand that staying up to date on trends and statistics in the caregiving field can help lead you to helpful resources and prepare for certain care situations with your loved one.
As you broach the role of family caregiver, have conversations with other caregivers in your community about health and wellness. Consider the following tips for keeping yourself and your loved one healthy:
  • Remember, the healthier you are as a caregiver, the more likely it is you can provide high-quality care for your loved one.
  • Educate yourself and the public to be aware of the health risks associated with caregiving.
  • Get regular check-ups, use preventive services as you’re able, and practice regular self-care. And, encourage other caregivers to do the same.
  • If you’re working a full- or part-time job in addition to your role as a family caregiver, find out if your employer offers paid time off for caregiving, employee assistance programs, or any flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting or job sharing.
  • Check out some caregiver training and support programs. The National Family Caregiver Support Program, for example, provides grants that fund a range of supportive services for family caregivers. These include information about available services, counseling, support groups, training, and respite care.
If your family eventually decides to make the transition to community-based senior care, consider reaching out to a Senior Care Advisor. They can provide one-on-one guidance on local senior care options that suit your loved one’s preferences, needs, and budget.


  1. Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA). Definitions.

  2. AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC). (2020, November). Caregiving in the U.S. 2020: A Focused Look at Family Caregivers of Adults Age 50+.

  3. Reinhard, S. C., Caldera, S., Houser, A., Choula, R. B. (2023, March). Valuing the Invaluable: 2023 Update Strengthening Supports for Family Caregivers. AARP.

  4. Cohen, S. A., Ahmed, N., Brown, M. J., Meucci, M. R., Greaney, M. L. (2022, March). Rural-urban differences in informal caregiving and health-related qualify of life. Journal of Rural Health.

  5. Blue Cross Blue Shield. (2020, September 9). The Impact of Caregiving on Mental and Physical Health.

  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Caregiving for Family and Friends — A Public Health Issue.

  7. Jean-Louis, F. (2022, July 28). Family Caregiver Burden Grows As the Population Ages. RTI Health Advance.

  8. National Academies Press. (2016, November 8). Economic Impact of Family Caregiving.

  9. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2023, May 12). Estimating Caregiver Time and Cost.

Meet the Author
Grace Styron

Grace Styron is a writer at OurParents specializing in assistive technology, memory care, and home care. Before writing about healthy aging, she worked for an online women’s lifestyle magazine and as a grant writer for a nonprofit regenerative permaculture farm in Virginia. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Missouri State University.

Edited byKristin Carroll
Reviewed byErin Martinez

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