The Shortage of Caregivers To Assist The Elderlyadmin
There is a growing problem concerning caregivers for the elderly: there isn’t enough of them. The growing number of aging Americans combined with changes in family structures and a lack of training among care professionals is leading to a national crisis. To curb this trend, significant changes in how care workers are compensated and educated will need to take place by the year 2030, or the shortage of caregivers will become overwhelming.
A Crisis In The Making
In 20 years, there will be more people over the age of 65 than ever before. The Baby Boomers will advance to their senior years over the next decade. Additionally, people are living longer, which also contributes to the growing elderly demographic. These factors combine to create one-fifth of the population in need of an elderly caregiver in some capacity.
To complicate matters, there is a general decline in generational caregiving . This kind of care is provided by a family member or other loved one and often takes place in the home. Baby Boomers have fewer children and grandchildren than generations before them, shrinking the pool of people within a family who can care for them. This puts more of a burden on the workforce of professionals trained to care for the aging.
There are currently 1.9 million caregivers in the US caring for our senior population, many of whom are over the age of 60 themselves. Even with the current number of caregivers, many seniors still go without the care they need.
So the question is, who will fill in the gap when at least 5.7 million caregivers are needed nationally by the year 2030?
How To Avoid the “2030 Problem” In Caregiving
Research suggests a few potential options for growing the number of people trained to care for seniors in time to prevent a shortage of critical proportions.
At the moment, many people do not go into the field of elderly care due to the low pay. Another current problem is a lack of proper training among medical care professionals and individuals who may be willing to care for aging family members. Finally, universities, medical care facilities, and government programs may need to begin actively recruiting elderly caregivers and providing the training they need to perform well.
Fair Compensation for Caregivers
Caregivers who are paid for their work are typically paid very little. Americans seeking employment can find better wages and more opportunities working in the fast food industry than in elderly care. Many caregivers do not have medical insurance coverage through their employers even though they are exposed to health risks on the job every day.
While many organizations are addressing the on-the-job health risks with oversight and supervision among caregivers, they are neglecting the fact that their workers are severely underpaid and lack health benefits. Some progress is being made in this regard since the government granted direct care workers protection under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Still, this only guarantees them minimum wage and overtime pay.
An elderly caregiver may not need a nursing degree, but they still require education and training to carry out their job successfully. Access to training for medical care professionals would allow them to switch into senior caregiving more easily. Training for individuals with loved ones to care for at home is also very important.
If more medical facilities offered elderly caregiver training, more citizens could care for their family at home for as long as possible. This would free up professional care workers to tend to the remaining population of those need.
Increasing the number of professional caregivers in the U.S. will require active recruitment strategies. Colleges, universities, hospitals, and government agencies should make this a priority over the next decade. Community colleges, for instance, can work to develop affordable programs that certify students to work as caregivers. Also, those who have experience caring for an elderly loved one at home may be a potential group of people who are interested in pursuing a career in the field.
The Future of Caregiving for the Elderly
With fewer family and friends to rely on, the aging population in the US needs to look ahead to how their needs will be met in the years to come. The year 2030 is quickly approaching, so we need to take action now. Caregivers should be paid a fair, living wage that compensates them for their hard work. They should also have access to the training they need to do their job well. By educating, actively recruiting, and fairly compensating elderly caregivers, we may be able to reverse the trending shortage and create a better future for our loved ones and ourselves.