Challenges Facing Caregivers & Our Aging Population

As our society grows older new challenges arise that we must face as a whole, e.g. the tremendous demographic change that will soon be at our footsteps. With each passing day 10,000 baby boomers reach 65 years of age and over the next quarter-century the population of elders is expected to double.

Current censuses demonstrate that the population consists of 48 million older adults and the latest estimates predict that figure will reach upwards of 88 million. Furthermore, the largest increase is expected to be amongst those in the 85+ age group. There’s no doubt that this shift will have affect the lives of millions of families, as well as caregivers in general.

Everyone, from our parents, our parents’ parents, and all elderly relatives will one day need additional care and support to meet their daily needs. And even those who aren’t fortunate enough to have children or family members to assist them will invariably need the help of compassionate caregivers.

Consider that the latest polls indicate that there are roughly 36 million Americans that provide some sort of support to an aging relative. Of those 36 million, a little over three-quarters of these caregivers have an away-from-home job, aside from providing care for their family members. A smaller amount even has to contend with working a full-time job in addition to taking care of their loved ones, and sometimes even having to raise children of their own. Mixed with the burdens of daily living, these caregivers can undergo a substantial amount of financial stress as well as health concerns of their own.

In the coming future the number of Americans that will have to meet these challenges will increase by a substantial amount. With that in mind, we, as a society, need to invest in infrastructural enhancements, both social and material, that will help families better manage their caregiving needs.

In addition to helping adopt family-friendly policies in the workplace; i.e. paid family leave, we need to increase the efficacy of family caregivers’ ability to supplement the support they provide with services offered by professional caregivers who are both trustworthy and empathetic.

However, as things stand now, home-care agencies are reportedly having a difficult time recruiting staff. As one agency in Philadelphia reports, the local WaWa – who offers a starting salary of $16 an hour – is making it difficult to convince workers to come into the caregiving business and the $10 an hour salary she is able to offer. Since public reimbursements for her agency haven’t increased in three years, while the cost of providing her services have skyrocketed, $10 an hour is the best she is able to offer.

PHI’s – ‘the nation’s leading authority on the direct-care workforce’, estimates that over the next 10 years 630,000 caregiving jobs will need to be filled. However, considering the irregular nature of home-care jobs and the lack of increase in the pool of workers, filling these vacancies will be a considerable challenge.

However, with innovative new thinking, and a compassionate, earnest effort on behalf of the community, we can invent a methodology and infrastructure for dealing with the needs of our aging population.