Care Giving is "New Normal" in American Families

Caregiving is the new normal in American families, according to a study from Merrill Lynch and Age Wave.

The study found the number of caregivers is skyrocketing -- currently there are forty million caregivers providing assistance to nearly 50 million adults -- half of them became caregivers just in the past year.

The study found informal caregivers, those that look after family and friends, are on the rise given the high cost of professional care. 20 million Americans became unpaid caregivers last year. According to the study, informal caregivers face unforeseen challenges. Informal caregivers log 3 times as many hours per year as professional caregivers.

But, even more alarming is the economic hardship -- the study says the estimated economic value of family and friend care giving is roughly $500 billion per year —3 times greater than Medicaid’s expenditures on professional long-term care.