According to a new report from the National Academics of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the need for family caregivers who help aging America is rising exponentially, leaving elders without adequate support.
The report found that nearly 18 million Americans care for aging elders but don’t receive the appropriate recognition, support, or information in order to perform their responsibilities efficiently.
Though each caregiver’s personal circumstances vary, family caregiving can have adverse effects on a person’s well-being, negatively affecting their mental and physical health. Without the proper resources to offer relief to those who aid older adults, family caregivers will continue to be overwhelmed by caring for the older adult population.
The committee that performed the study found that by the year 2030, 72.8 million U.S. citizens will be older adults—meaning 65 or older. According to the National Survey of Caregivers, in 2011, 17.7 million U.S. residents were family caregivers of older adults due to an elder’s health problems or functional debilitations.
For most family caregivers, the job is not a part-time job, but rather a full-time commitment. The average length of time paid caregivers assist older adults with increased needs is five years. Minimal action has been taken to prepare the health care and social service systems for this demographic transition, the committee said.
What This Means
The report stated that the number of older adults in need (mainly those who are 80 or older) is expected to increase from 12 percent in 2012 to 37 percent by 2050. As mentioned before, there is a disproportionate amount of family caregivers versus elders. While the demand for caregivers is rising—due in part by the fact that some older adults don’t have any living relatives to care for them—the amount available is decreasing. Contributing factors to the elderly having no one else to care for them include: lower fertility, higher rates of childlessness, and increased rates in divorce or never-married statuses.
“Families caring for an aging America,” The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine web site, Sept 13 2016; http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=23606.