By 2030, U.S Demographic Milestone Begins to Lower Caregiver Ratio

family caregiversLast month, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that the year 2030 marks an important demographic turning point in U.S. history.  According to the Census Bureau’s 2017 National Population Projections, by 2030, all baby boomers will be older than age 65. This will expand the size of the older population so that 1 in every 5 residents will be retirement age.

“The aging of baby boomers means that within just a couple decades, older people are projected to outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history,” said Jonathan Vespa, a demographer with the U.S. Census Bureau, in a statement released with the statistical bulletin.  By 2035, there will be 78.0 million people 65 years and older compared to 76.4 million under the age of 18,” he said.

The 2030s are projected to be a transformative decade for the U.S. population, says the 2017 statistical bulletin, noting that the nation’s population is expected to grow at a slower pace, age considerably and become more racially and ethnically diverse.  Net international migration is projected to overtake natural increase in 2030 as the primary driver of population growth in the United States, another demographic first for the United States.

Where Have All the Caregivers Gone?

Five years ago, AARP sounded the alarm about the graying of America where older parents are expected to outnumber children, this verified by the Census Bureau’s 2017 statistical bulletin released on March 13, 2018.

Census Bureau’s recently identified demographic milestone and its implications on caregiving.  The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit warned that the pool of family and friends to care for Baby Boomers as they age into their 80s will be less than half as deep as it is today. The 2013 report, “The Aging of the Baby Boom and the Growing Care Gap: A Look at Future Declines in the Availability of Family Caregivers,” predicted the ratio of potential family caregivers to elders needing care will plummet from seven caregivers for each person over age 80 in 2013 to fewer than three caregivers per elderly person in 2050.  AARP’s report published by its Public Policy Institute also anticipated that the dearth of family caregivers projected for 2030 to 2050 will intensify the emotional, physical and financial costs borne by future caregiving family members and friends.

“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,” said Lynn Feinberg, AARP Senior Policy Analyst and one of the report’s authors in a statement released with the 12 page report, “but this confidence is likely to deflate when it collides with the dramatically shrinking availability of family caregivers in the future.”

“As the number of people over the age of 80 increases in the next 20 years, the number of people in the primary caregiving years will remain flat,” states AARP’s 2013 report. Meanwhile, in 2050, there will be three times as many people age 80 and older as there are today. As a result, by 2050, the caregiver support ratio which was 7.2 in 2010 when Boomers were in their peak caregiving years, is projected to drop to 2.9 percent when the boomers will have reached their eighties. According to AARP’s report, “In just 13 years, as the Baby Boomers age into their 80’s, the decline in the caregiver support ratio will shift from a slow decline to a free fall.”

“Rapidly increasing numbers of people in advanced old age and shrinking families to provide support to them demands new solutions to financing and delivering long term services and supports,” said Feinberg.

For details on the Census Bureau’s 2017 statistical bulletin, go to https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/popproj.html.

The complete report, “The Aging of the Baby Boom and the Growing Care Gap: A Look at Future Declines in the Availability of Family Caregivers,” can be found at http://www.aarp.org/home-family/caregiving/info-08-2013/the-aging-of-the-baby-boom-and-the-growing-care-gap-AARP-ppi-ltc.html

 

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