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The Future of Caregiving in the U.S. | Generations Home Care
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    An opinion piece by Reuters columnist Mark Miller caught our eye recently. In it, Miller shares new research about the sobering future of caregiving in the United States. In short, the number of caregivers (defined as CNA’s, home care workers, and unpaid family caregivers) won’t rise to meet the demand from an increasing number of elderly Americans. Researchers estimate that:

    “…in 2030 there will be a national shortage of 151,000 paid direct care workers and 3.8 million unpaid family caregivers. By 2040, the shortfall will be much larger: 355,000 paid workers, and the family and friends shortfall will be a shocking 11 million.”

    What’s even more concerning is that these are conservative estimates. Researchers arrived at these projections by assuming immigration and family caregiving continue at the same rates. But this isn’t guaranteed. In fact, researchers believe the number of family caregivers could decrease as family size shrinks, increasing pressure on paid caregivers. To make matters even worse, current Federal policy inhibits the workforce growth necessary to meet this anticipated demand.

    Immigration and Medicare Play Big Roles

    Researchers point to Federal immigration policy and Medicare reimbursement rates as key players in this issue. Using Census data, they found that “[i]n 2015, 18 percent of CNAs and 27 percent of home care aides were immigrants.” If the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown remains, it could depress the labor pool and result in very negative consequences for states with high immigrant populations like New York or California. Additionally, existing Medicare policy prevents the wage growth that would normally accompany increasing demand.

    “Two-thirds of long-term care in the United States is funded by the federal Medicaid program, with the remainder paid through private commercial insurance or out of pocket. Medicaid payment policies vary widely among the states, but Osterman worries that in many states, care facilities funded by cash-strapped Medicaid programs will not be able to boost wages.”

    Under normal economic circumstances, rising demand results in higher wages which in turn draws more workers to the labor pool. But the Medicare bureaucracy acts as an artificial impediment to this natural growth cycle.

    This isn’t a hopeless problem. Researchers believe addressing these two areas are key steps to addressing this looming crisis. In addition, they recommend transforming the role of the home care worker in order to attract more people to the labor force.

    Plan For Aging Now

    This article serves as a stark reminder for the importance of planning for aging. Especially before you need additional care. Start by asking yourself, what the likelihood is you’ll need care in the future? Will your children be willing and able caregivers? If not, do you know the home care market in your area? Or, how much care will cost should you need it? These questions only become more difficult to answer the longer you wait.

    If you live in the greater Phoenix area and would like to learn more about our local caregiving market, we’d be happy to talk. Take a look at our services page and then give us a call at 602-595-HOME (4663). You can also fill out our contact form and we’ll get right back to you. If the projections in Miller’s article come to pass, finding quality caregivers could become increasingly difficult. That sounds like a good reason to start thinking about the issue now.

    About the author - Generations Home Care

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