Caregiver Shortage Threatens for Baby Boomers

posted Nov 15, 2010, 9:02 AM by Web Administrator
By the year 2030, this nation’s 72 million baby boomers will have reached age 65. This many baby boomers reaching retirement age at the same time will create a critical shortage of caregivers. Those employed as caregivers are primarily women in their mid-20s to mid-50s, and the caregiver industry is already suffering from low wages and high turnover rates. This situation is not expected to improve anytime soon.

Paid caregivers mostly fill jobs taking care of older people, usually working as nursing assistants, home health aides and personal care assistants. In the next decade, an additional one million of these direct care professional workers will be needed, and by 2030, an additional three million will be necessary.

For those in this profession, low pay is only one of the drawbacks. In 2004, nurse aides were paid an average of $10 an hour, and unskilled home care workers made even less. These workers often do not receive benefits. Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that the nation’s home care workers are not entitled to overtime pay under federal law. To combat this, some states such as Vermont have created their own programs to increase pay and provide benefits.

Unpaid family caregivers, 61 percent of whom are women, play a significant role as well. They must balance work and family life. They must fill the void left by a paid care professional, if they are able to afford to hire a care professional at all. Each year, the U.S. economy loses about $33 billion in productivity because of employees who are also family caregivers and who must deal with issues related to taking care of family members.

In the past, older people have been able to rely on family and friends to help with chores such as housekeeping and grocery shopping. However, baby boomers had fewer children, and often they are spread around the country. There are simply fewer people on which to rely.

The South Western Oklahoma Development Authority Area Agency on Aging (SWODA AAA) offers a Caregiver Support Program for those caring for people age 60 and over. For information about this program and other services offered through the SWODA AAA, call the SWODA AAA Information Assistant, Ada Vanderford, at 1-800-627-4882 or locally at 580-562-4882.