AARP Report Predicts Shortage in Caregivers

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Americans are aging quickly, and this is bound to have a devastating effect on home caregiving for the elderly in the coming decades. According to a recently released report by the AARP, “The Aging of the Baby Boom and the Growing Care Gap,” Americans in the coming years will likely suffer from an absence of loved ones to take care of them as they age.

According to the report, in 2010 there was a ratio of over seven potential caregivers for each American over eighty years old. By 2030, the report predicts that this ratio will rapidly decline to just four potential caregivers for each elderly American. This trend is expected to continue, and by 2050, the ratio will be down to three-to-one.

This will occur for a number of reasons, including the very large number of baby boomers, and the fact that baby boomers had smaller families in contrast to previous generations. Additionally, the increased life spans of Americans simultaneously demands a greater need for elderly caregiving. According to projections in the report, of the 78 million baby boomers alive in 2010, approximately sixty million of them will be alive by 2030, and twenty million will live past 2050.

These numbers are based on findings from REMI, a firm which specializes in economic forecasting and policy analysis. This is particularly concerning for a large number of Americans because family caregiving is a growing phenomenon in the United States. At present, there are over 40 million Americans providing home care to a loved one, and that number has been soaring in recent years. According to the report, over 60% of home caregivers are women, and the overwhelming majority of those cared for are over fifty years old.

Today, the typical caregiver can be described as a middle aged woman who works part-time while caregiving a loved one without pay for twenty hours weekly. The problem is that the number of potential caregivers will be on the decline at a time when their demand will be an all-time high. According to Lynn Feinberg, a policy advisor at the AARP Public Policy Institute and an author of the report, the findings indicate that Americans should not rely solely on loved ones to provide care for them as they age.

This is not comforting news, since at present family and friends have been the backbone of quality home care for the elderly, with many providing care without pay. If these costs were totaled, it could reach as high as $450 billion, a massive amount which surpasses all of Medicaid and even borders on the expenditures of Medicare. This is a problem which if left alone, will disproportionately affect women since they live longer than men.

As a result, the report argues that it is time to implement policy that will make it easier for loved one to provide home care, and a federal commission on this very subject is expected in the coming months. With a rapidly aging population, let us hope that policy will be implemented sooner than later.

Women's Longevity Affects How We Care For Seniors


A recently released report by the World Health Organization has found that the life expectancy for aging women is increasing at a significant rate. The report also found that there is room for improvement in less affluent countries, where adjustments could see life expectancies increase yet further. According to researchers at the World Health Organization, leading causes of death in women over the age of fifty include cancer, stroke, and heart disease. Fortunately, these ailments are preventable in many situations simply by improving one’s diet and increased exercise. As a result, many causes of premature deaths that have been dragging down average life expectancy can be treated or fully prevented.

Some of the keys towards increasing life expectancy in women include not smoking and not drinking excessively. Obesity is a leading cause of premature death in women, so weight control is also of crucial significance. The WHO study also compared women who live in different countries. The women who live longest in the world are Japanese. Still, the report found that life expectancies have increased all around the world, largely due to advancements in fighting deadly diseases such as pneumonia, flu, and tuberculosis.

Some countries are falling behind. For example, Russian women are feeling the effects of a failed healthcare system, and South Africa is suffering from a threatening AIDS epidemic. Some countries are experiencing the negative effects of economic prosperity, such as in Mexico where increased wages have resulted in a parallel increase in obesity.

The report was not exclusively related to aging and longevity, and also included pertinent information relating to a women’s right to safe-sex. This issue is intrinsically related to healthy aging and longevity, and WHO researchers advocate for changing stereotypes relating to the sexuality of seniors. Women need to be offered guidance related to safe-sex and have access to testing for sexually transmitted diseases.

This increase in the longevity of women’s lives has a tremendous effect on how we care for seniors. The United States has seen a dramatic increase in the number of home health care agencies, offering long term home care for an aging American population. The increase in longevity comes with increased challenges in how we care for our elders. With rising healthcare costs, many seniors find themselves unable to afford the expensive bills from nursing homes and residential facilities, opting for home care options instead.

Fortunately, the technological advancements in the area of home care have allowed Americans to age in the comfort of their own homes while still maintaining access to quality care. The phenomenon of loved ones providing for seniors in their own home is as popular as ever, and this trend is only expected to continue. The average life expectancy of American women is on the rise, having surpassed the 80 year benchmark. While this is a dose of good news to a population of aging baby boomers, it also compels our policy makers to improve our healthcare system to accommodate the large population of seniors.