Of the many seniors who receive some form of at-home care, a large portion relies on the help of a friend or family member. These family caregivers are more often than not members of the baby boomer generation, but as they begin to reach an age where they might need long-term care themselves, the number of potential care providers is beginning to shrink, according to recent data presented by AARP to the Congressional Long-Term Care Commission.
To get a broader understanding of the caregiver picture, researchers compared the number of people 80 and older to the number of people most likely to provide care – those between 45 and 64. They found that in 2010, there were about seven potential caregivers for every person 80 and older. That number is expected to shrink to four by 2030 and 2.5 by 2050.
“As a country, we need to raise the visibility of and support for caregiving families to prevent burnout. We must also guard against building an LTSS (long-term service and support) system that relies too heavily on family caregivers,” AARP officials said. “Family members and friends who voluntarily take on the caregiving role should be offered support, not expected to assume greater responsibilities without help.”
Caregivers will become increasingly important in the coming years as the population ages. A recent study from The Scan Foundation found that 27 million people will require some form of long-term care by 2050.