Americans who believe they'll be able to rely on their families as caregivers when they're old are in for a huge shock, according to an AARP report.
Many baby boomers have taken on the burden of caring for their aging parents, but who will take care of boomers when they need help of their own?
A report released Monday by the AARP provides a sobering answer: There probably won't be enough helping hands to go around.
MSN News: Charles W. Jones
AARP's Caregiver Support Ratio predicts the number of caregivers for the aging will plummet in the coming decades.
The report, by the AARP's Public Policy Institute, projects a drastic decline within the next two decades in the availability of family caregivers to provide long-term services and support for their elderly relatives.
The report looked at the impact of demographic trends on the "caregiver support ratio" — the number of potential caregivers age 45-64 for each person age 80 and older. In 2010, there were more than 7 potential caregivers for every person in the high-risk years of 80-plus. By 2030, the ratio is projected to decline to 4 to 1. Even more ominous, it is expected to further fall to less than 3 to 1 in 2050, when all boomers will be in the high-risk years of late life.
"More than two-thirds of Americans believe they will be able to rely on their families to meet their needs when they need long term care, but this confidence is likely to deflate when it collides with the dramatically shrinking availability of family caregivers in the future," said Lynn Feinberg, AARP senior policy analyst and one of the report's authors.
COSTS OF AGING
Sally Abrahms, who writes about aging and boomers and blogs for AARP, said a shortage of family caregivers means higher costs for society.
"One reason people are able to stay in their home or community as they age is because they have help from family members, partners and close friends. Without that help and strong support systems, they are more likely to wind up in institutions such as nursing homes," Abrahms wrote. "That's problematic because, not only do most people want to stay in their own homes, but also doing so saves the government billions of dollars annually in Medicaid costs that would otherwise pay for institutional care."
The report said the United States needs a comprehensive policy for long-term services to better serve the needs of older persons.
The Commission on Long-Term Care, a 15-member national panel made up of nine Democrats and six Republicans, has been tasked with coming up with recommendations on how to pay for the expensive long-term services for seniors and disabled Americans. The commission's report is due in September.
Related: 3 kinds of long-term care coverage
Related: Baby boomers saying 'I do' in style
Related: Fed-up doctors are fleeing Medicare
Join MSN News on social