It is the year 2030, the leading edge of the boomer population are in their early eighties and there is a chronic shortage of in home caregivers. This happens for more than one reason and will need more than one antidote.
Currently an 82 year old has an average of 7 adult children to be involved in their lives. That ratio is going down statistically in the years to come as fewer of us had children or as many children. Given the economic challenges that many of the millennial generation continue to face, taking care of mom and dad may be an impossible burden for them to bear and certainly not in our own game plan.
As much as you value your independence, the viability of the staying at home safely in the future may be sorely tested when there is no outside help. Even a few hours a week strategically planned to get vital things done can make all the difference. Low supply and high demand always make it more expensive for those on the need it now side.
What about attracting more people from a shrinking work force demographic to the home care health field? Where is the incentive of decent training and pay for all this work that is out there? I was appalled by a recent New York Times article that quotes the average wage of agency in home care worker to be actually declining after the last ten years to 10.11 an hour with no benefits or steady hours.
I had written in an earlier blog about a young entrepreneur who is trying to pay people a decent wage with benefits. See: http://waystostay.org/help-wanted-2035/. From the looks of the Hometeam website they are still alive and well, but this so far is the exception to what is generally available.
Those family members who do take time from work to help out or fit in extra errands for older folks get nothing but the self satisfaction. Those who quit their jobs or work part time lose value in building their own social security for their own retirement. The monetary contribution of unpaid caregivers in this country is really staggering.
The solution needs to be a multi faceted one, one that also has to do with political platforms and legislative follow through. There should be incentives for the businesses to to be able to make a profit but keep good workers. This is another reason why this election is so important. From the democratic side we have lots of wonky but real details on how to help improve this situation. Read the most excellent research in this Next Avenue blog post. It gives the views of both the candidates on this and other policies that will impact seniors: http://www.nextavenue.org/clinton-trump-caregiving-long-term-care/
The shortage of health care workers is not a rubric’s cube level puzzle to solve. It will take a collaborative effort between the business sector, government policy and tax support for family caregivers. Meanwhile I will be revisiting this topic again and again as it is critical. The parts of the puzzle need to start to come together now.