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AARP: Caregiver shortage looming in the future

August 27, 2013

In years past, it was often assumed that as adults get older, their children would provide some form of care for them in one way or another, but a new study from AARP suggests that may not be the case for much longer. Experts estimate that by 2030 there will only be four potential caregivers for every person 80 or older, which is down from more than seven per person in 2010. This shrinking number poses a number of challenges, but also highlights important role of independent living communities and other retirement options.

There are a number of factors contributing to the growing dearth of family caregivers, but one of the biggest is the size of the baby boomer population. At 78 million strong, many of them are beginning to turn 65, and given that they had fewer children than their parents did, there are simply not enough younger adults to keep up. Furthermore, things like increased longevity and a higher rate of divorce have also come into play. Researchers say the findings should serve as a signal to boomers to start planning for a future when they may require assisted living or short term rehabilitation.

"It's a wake-up call for aging boomers," Lynn Feinberg, a senior strategic policy adviser at the AARP Public Policy Institute and an author of the report, told The Washington Post. "We're really moving toward an uncertain future, as...relying on our family and friends to provide long-term care isn't going to be realistic anymore."

A large portion of the senior population requires some form of long term care. By 2050, the number of seniors who need long-term care is expected to reach about 27 million, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.