Houston Health Department
Daily Health Policy Report
Coverage & Access | Caregiver Shortage Expected To Worsen as Aging Baby Boomers Increase Demand
[Sep 28, 2006]
Demand for home-based caregivers likely will double by 2050 as baby boomers age, but an expected shortage likely will limit access to caregivers in the future, according to a new report, USA Today reports. A report scheduled for release on Thursday by the International Longevity Center USA and the Schmieding Center for Senior Health and Education finds that 20% of elderly patients currently lack access to professional and family caregivers and that the shortage will increase in the future. In addition, the report, titled "Caregiving in America," finds that caregiver wages are among the lowest in the nation, an indication that U.S. residents likely will not "be more willing to take these low-wage jobs in the future," USA Today reports. Nurse aides received a median hourly wage of $10 in 2004, and unskilled home-based caregivers received a lower median hourly wage, according to the report. A second report released on Wednesday by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging finds that almost half of U.S. cities have no plans in place to meet the health care and other needs of baby boomers as they age (Fackelmann, USA Today, 9/27). For the report, titled "The Maturing of America: Getting Communities on Track for an Aging Population," researchers surveyed more than 1,790 U.S. cities and found that one-third do not provide access to health screenings, counseling on prescription drugs or health education for elderly residents (Alt Powell, AP/Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 9/27). According to the report, the number of U.S. residents ages 65 and older will reach almost 72 million by 2030 (USA Today, 9/27).
In related news, more than 2.5 million home-based family caregivers experience depression, stress and declines in their health, according to a study released on Wednesday by the National Alliance for Caregiving, USA Today reports. The study, funded by Evercare and conducted by Mathew Greenwald & Associates, included an online survey of 528 family caregivers between July 21 and July 28, as well as in-depth phone interviews and discussion groups with caregivers. About 91% of respondents said that they had experienced depression, and 72% said they had not visited their physicians as often as needed since they began to provide care for elderly relatives. Gail Hunt, president of the National Alliance, said that family caregivers "are out there without anybody helping them." She added, "They could get to the point where they can't be a caregiver anymore." John Crews, a senior health scientist at CDC, said, "People need help. They need respite. They need a break. They need somebody who has knowledge" (Kornblum, USA Today, 9/25).