Many aging baby boomers are now taking care of their elderly parents, but a new report casts doubt on whether there will be anyone available to take care of them, when the time comes. A report, released last week by the AARP's Public Policy Institute, predicts that, within the next few decades, baby boomers will face a drastic shortage in the availability of family caregivers. The report, entitled The Aging of the Baby Boom and the Growing Care Gap: A Look at Future Declines in the Availability of Family Caregivers by Donald Redfoot, Lynn Feinberg, and Ari Houser; tracked the ratio of potential caregivers aged 45–64 for each person aged 80 and older, nationally and for all 50 states for the period from 1990 to 2050.
According to the report, during the period from 1990 to 2010, with boomers aging into the prime care-giving years, the caregiver support ratio was at an all-time high and increased slightly, from 6.6 to 7.2 potential caregivers aged 45–64 for every person aged 80-plus. By 2030, the ratio is projected to freefall to 4 to 1. It is expected to further decline to less than 3 to 1 in 2050, when all baby boomers will be in the high-risk years of 80-plus. This decline is expected to affect baby boomers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
"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 authors of the report.
Factors contributing to this trend include rapidly increasing numbers of people in advanced old age and shrinking families to provide support to them. There are simply less offspring available to care for increasing numbers of elderly parents.