Who Will Care For The Baby Boomers As They Age?
August 27, 2013

Aging Boomers Will Result In Massive Decrease In Caregiver Availability

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Baby boomers who are currently caring for their elderly parents might not have anyone around to fill that role during their twilight years, according to a new study from AARP.

According to the study, the ratio of potential caregivers to older men and women in need of care will plummet from 7.2-to-1 in 2010 to just 2.9-to-1 by 2050, said Walter Hamilton of the Los Angeles Times. The decline “will exacerbate the emotional and financial pressures weighing on families,” he added.

The caregiver support ratio used in the study refers to the number of potential caregivers between the ages of 45 and 64 for each individual over the age of 80, AARP explained, and it is used to document the declining availability of long-term family members capable of providing service and support over the next several decades.

The organization, which is a non-governmental organization dedicated to quality-of-life issues for Americans over the age of 50, reported that the period from 1990 through 2010 was marked by an increasing number of boomers maturing into their prime caregiver years. As a result, the overall caregiver ratio increased from 6.6 caregivers per person over the age of 80 to 7.2 caregivers per person.

However, from 2010 through 2030, those same boomers will progress into old age, causing the caregiver ratio to drop sharply – from 7.2 per person to 4.1 per person. The ratio will fall hardest in the 2020s, when the oldest members of the generation will begin to reach the age of 80. From 2030 through 2050, all remaining boomers will become octogenarians, resulting in the caregiver ratio to bottom out at 2.9 per person, the group said.

“More than two-thirds of Americans believe they will be able to rely on their families to meet their needs when they need long-term care,” AARP’s Lynn Feinberg, one of the authors of the report, told Hamilton. “But this confidence is likely to deflate when it collides with the dramatically shrinking availability of family caregivers in the future.”

The organization also said that the national trends will be reflected in all 50 US states, as well as the District of Columbia. The study authors believe that the rising need for caregivers and the shrinking size of the American family suggests that the government needs to institute a “comprehensive person- and family-centered” long term care policy that “would better serve the needs of older persons with disabilities, support family and friends in their caregiving roles, and promote greater efficiencies in public spending.”