A recent report by AARP, as described in the North Carolina publication The Progressive Pulse, finds that in North Carolina alone, 1.2 million residents cared for a family member, partner or friend with a chronic illness.

That’s a lot for one state. Regarding the entire country, the AARP Report notes that “in 2009, about 42.1 million family caregivers in the United States provided care to an adult with limitations in daily activities at any given point in time, and about 61.6 million provided care at some time during the year.”

Almost two-thirds of caretakers are women.

Caregiving responsibilities are increasing for many. The author of The Progressive Pulse article, Sabine Schoenbach, points out that while many more women are in the workforce, policies regarding taking time off are reflective of decades’ old standards where it is assumed that someone is also at home taking care of family.

Caretaking alone can be time-consuming. As we know, however, caretakers often have formal employment obligations. Whether caretakers are men or women, there needs to be better employment accommodations for our aging country.

Illness and the need for caretakers are realities that are not going away. Since most people cannot afford outside help, caregiving will fall on friends and family, who also have to continue to work for a living.