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A family caregiver is one who provides unpaid assistance for a friend or family member who is unable to care for himself or herself. Family caregivers, who comprise over a quarter of the U.S. adult population, provide a majority of the long-term care in the United States—much more than institutions. The economic impact of this free care is enormous, valued at $450 billion per year in 2009 by the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) Public Policy Institute. The toll that caregiving takes on the well-being of family caregivers, however, is also significant. This is typically attributed to the stress associated with the role.

Most caregivers are spouses or adult children, but extended family members, friends, and neighbors also take on the role. The majority are ...

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