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(Smart Money) — The demand for informal caregivers–like family members, friends or neighbors–is expected to increase by more than 20% in the next 15 years–and by 85% in the next 40 years–as baby boomers age, data from the Dept. Health and Human Services show. Nearly 62 million Americans already care for another adult at least part-time, an expensive and time-consuming undertaking.  Many people first spot a need to take on a bigger role in a parent or older relative’s life at big family gatherings where mom suddenly seems to be wobbly on the stairs. Even caregivers who hire paid help can expect to spend an average of 24 hours each week on actual care, according to a 2007 study by the National Alliance for Caregiving and Evercare. And the 56% of caretakers who live with their charge spend more than $4,500 per year on directly-related out-of-pocket expenses such as food, transportation and medication.

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