Senior-care crisis looming

Rosemarie Rae
Rosemarie Rae

Many families are in or near financial crisis from the triple whammy of the collapse of the economy, the health-care crisis and the booming population of aging Americans, a new study says.

Roughly one in 10 receive pay for the care they provide to family members, over 46 percent say the economy has made it tougher to provide care, and 75 percent say the person they care for is age 70 or older, according to America’s Caregiving and Aging Challenges: Highlights of a Study Commissioned by Volunteers of America.

The first Baby Boomers, the generation born between 1946 and 1964, are turning age 65 this year, with over 71.5 million Americans expected to be 65 or older by 2030.

That will be the largest senior population in U.S. history, nearly double the roughly 37 million seniors today.

“This is a large, emerging crisis in America,” Rosemarie Rae, executive vice president for Volunteers of America, says in a statement.

Medicare now pays out more in benefits than it takes in and will be insolvent by 2017, Rae says, while Social Security will pay out more than it collects starting in 2016 and will be insolvent by 2037.

And to qualify for Medicaid, she says, “most people must bankrupt themselves before they can receive long-term-care coverage.”

The report says 97 percent of women and 94 percent of mean believe the elderly, if they want to, should be able to age at home.

Nearly half the women surveyed expect they will be asked to care for an older family member at some point in the future, and over 54 percent do not expect they will be able to provide that care.

Most people interviewed for the survey say they cannot make financial, career or family sacrifices to care for an older family member, with 65 percent saying that cannot take time off from work to provide that care.

Eighty-six percent of women interviewed and 81 percent of men say better workplace policies are needed to meet family obligations to help aging family members.

Only about half of people interviewed have prepared at all for their own aging, the report says.

In addition to lacking financial stability, many have not started talking to family members about the care they want, most have not talked to their doctor about aging issues, and over half do not have a power of attorney or a will, or both, in place.

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