A Look into the Near Future: Not Enough Home Caregivers to Support the Number of Baby Boomers
According to the Chicago Tribune, approximately 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day. Although this generation has proven to be determined to age in a more healthy and independent way than the generations before them, boomers are still aging.
As boomers grow older and begin to live with complex medical conditions and decreased abilities, the entire healthcare industry has prepared to care for them. Unfortunately, no matter how much hospitals and home care services prepare, it appears we are careening toward a crisis. Soon, there may not be enough caregivers to support baby boomers in need.
Forbes reports that an additional million home care workers will be required by the year 2026 to meet the needs of aging baby boomers. That is a 50-percent increase over the number of home care workers in 2014. Without proper care, aging boomers can be at an increased risk for falls, infections, and other serious complications that can leave this otherwise healthy generation vulnerable.
How did we get here?
The baby boomer generation has been a hot topic of discussion for years, simply due to their sheer numbers. Boomers have been the largest demographic group in the country for decades, making them prime consumers. Research has followed the boomers throughout their lives, and as the group has marched toward retirement, research has shifted to their healthcare needs.
Boomers are aging, and they are aging in force. The Pew Research Center estimates that 70 million boomers make up this giant generation, with each of them approaching retirement age rapidly (if they aren’t already there).
As Boomers are getting older, the occupation of caregiver is simply not growing fast enough to meet the quickly increasing demands. Lack of reasonable wages, poor benefits, and a fear of potential liability can keep compassionate people away from a caregiving profession.
What does this mean for seniors and their families?
A lack of experienced caregivers and healthcare professionals can create a potential crisis for seniors and their families. Without proper caregivers available to fill the gaps created by working family members, finding additional assistance can become more difficult. Seniors who need help with small or large tasks can attempt them on their own, but they risk putting themselves in danger.
Take, for example, Adam, a senior who is too unstable to safely get into the shower by himself. Without the proper assistance scheduled, he attempts to take a shower on his own. The task takes him longer, he feels anxious during the attempt (which increases his blood pressure and pulse), and then he falls while trying to get out of the shower. Now Adam doesn’t have the energy to get up off the floor and he feels scared and wonders how he can get the help he needs.
Beyond the danger that decreased caregiver availability can cause, the care that is available could increase in cost. Most seniors already operate on a set monthly budget, and even a few extra dollars per hour for a caregiver can cause a frugal senior to skip the assistance they may need in order to save money
What are the potential solutions?
The boomers will continue to need assistance as they age, and caregivers are already in short supply. However, the senior care industry has been working on potential solutions for decades. There has been a push for increased pay and benefits for caregivers of all types, and certifications for some types of assistance are no longer required.
However, the most promising solution for the caregiver crisis is technology and the introduction of on-demand home care services. Technology now gives seniors and their family members the chance to request help in real time, asking for assistance with specific tasks via apps such as CaringOnDemand. A few taps via the app can connect seniors in need with vetted caregivers in the area and can save seniors money because they’re only charged only for the tasks requested (and not billed for a set four-hour minimum). Furthermore, caregivers using on-demand services feel empowered as they can set their own schedules, and they can make more money by serving their clients well.
Curious about how CaringOnDemand could save you money while providing you with customized assistance with household or personal care tasks? Contact us to set up a care consultation with CaringOnDemand. You will love the reliability and flexibility of our services.