Aging US Population is Emerging Crisis for Families says Volunteers of America

The collision of the economy, the health care crisis, and a growing number of aging Americans has put many families in or near financial crisis according to a new report from Volunteers of America.

“Plurality of caregivers say the economy has made it more difficult to provide care to a family member,” said the report.  “Few—roughly one in 10—are paid for the care they provide.”

More than 46 percent report that the economy has made it harder to be able to provide care. Three quarters of caregivers state that the person to whom they provide care is 70 years or older.

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“We have a potential catastrophe looming with the collision of a significant, and growing, aging population, the economic downturn, and the health care crisis,” said Rosemarie Rae, executive vice president with Volunteers of America.

The number of older Americans in the 65 or older age bracket is expected to reach more than 71.5 million people by 2030 says the report.  This will be the largest senior population in U.S. history and almost double the approximately 37 million seniors today.  “This is a large, emerging crisis in America,” Rae said.

“Medicare already pays out more in benefits than it brings in and will be insolvent by 2017,” Rae continued. “Social Security will pay out more than it collects beginning in 2016 and the system as a whole will be insolvent by 2037.”   Medicaid statistics are equally alarming.  In order to qualify, most people must bankrupt themselves before they can receive long-term care coverage.

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“We are hopeful that healthcare reform will begin to shape this discussion and mitigate the negative impacts of the current system,” Rae said.

The study also found that an overwhelming majority—97 percent of women and 94 percent of men—believe that the elderly should be allowed to age at home, if they want to.

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A majority of those interviewed reported that they were unable to make financial, career or family sacrifices in order to care for an older family member.  More than 65 percent stated that they would be unable to take time off of work to care for an elderly loved one, and 86 percent of women interviewed and 81 percent of men agreed that better workplace policies are needed to meet family obligations to help aging family members.

View a copy of the report here.