The value of U.S. family care increased to about $375 billion in 2007, from $350 billion in 2006.

The estimated value of 2007 family caregiving exceeded the $311 billion that Medicaid programs spent on medical care in 2007, according to researchers at AARP, Washington.

The estimated value of family caregiving also exceeded Medicaid LTC spending in every state, the researchers report.

The 2007 increase in family care value reflects an increase in the U.S. population, the aging of the population and an increase in the average value of 1 hour of care, researchers write.

The researchers estimate that 34 million Americans provide more than 20 hours of care per week for other adults.

The researchers calculate that informal caregivers of people ages 50 and older spent an average of $5,531 out-of-pocket in 2007 to care for loved ones.

In addition, caregiving can lead to loss of workdays, wages, health benefits and retirement savings, the researchers write.

More than one third of informal caregivers leave their jobs or cut their work hours to provide care, with women more likely to leave the labor force entirely, the researchers write.