The FAMCare Blog

Getting Granular

Posted by GVT Admin on May 14, 2024 11:43:01 AM

Helping the elderly

Twice a year, this blog updates its look at the elder care crisis looming over our country and many other industrialized western economies. Let's take a little closer look at the challenges we are all facing.

Scope

  • Advances in medicine, nutrition, exercise, and all-around fitness have extended the expected lifespan of the American male to 76.5 years and the female to 80 years. If the average lifespan of the American male is 76.5 years that means that half of our elderly male population lives well beyond 76, and half of our women live beyond 80.
  • The Congressional Budget Office projects that over the 2023–2053 period, 73 million people, on average, will be age 65 or older, and thus generally eligible for Social Security and Medicare and less likely to work. That number is about twice the average number of people in that group from 1983 to 2022.
  • In 2020, there were 727 million people aged 65 or older in industrialized nations. This number is expected to more than double by 2050.
  • Over 15% of the population of 7 countries consists of persons 65 years or older.
  • 29% - Japan
  • 23.9% - Italy
  • 23.8% - Portugal
  • 22 % - Germany
  • 21% - France
  • 18.9% - U.K.
  • 17.3 % - U. S.

Implications

The social and economic implications of this aging population are becoming increasingly apparent in these industrialized nations, and policymakers are confronted with several interrelated issues, including:

  • A decline in the working-age population.
  • Increased health care costs
  • Unsustainable pension commitments
  • Changing demand drivers within the economy.
  • A supply shortage of qualified workers.
  • Nations with larger older populations depending on a smaller group of people to pay for higher health costs, pension benefits, and other publicly funded programs.
  • Given that demand for healthcare rises with age, countries with rapidly aging populations must allocate more money and resources to their health care systems.
  • The healthcare sector itself in these advanced economies faces similar issues, including labor and skills shortages and increased demand for at-home care.
  • Countries with large populations of older adults depend on smaller pools of workers from which to collect taxes to pay for higher health costs, pension benefits, and other publicly funded programs.
  • An economy with a significant share of older adults and retirees has different demand drivers than an economy with a higher birth rate and a larger working-age population. For example, rapidly aging populations tend to have greater demands for health care services and retirement homes. Although this is not necessarily negative, economies may face challenges transitioning to markets that are increasingly driven by goods and services linked to older people.

Ready-Willing-Able?

As long as this blog has been writing about the "Tidal Wave" of elderly breaking over our shores, we have reported on the earnest efforts of well-meaning politicians, social workers, and health care professionals to establish adequate care systems for the coming "baby-boom" of elderly. There has never been any question as to the good intent of our caregivers to provide support, but there is still a major question as to whether we, as a country, will be able to handle the challenge.

  • We simply do not have enough young people in this country to overcome the shifting demographic to the elderly.
  • Our economy is already strained trying to balance the taxable productive workforce with the needs of the retired.
  • Our immigration policies are tangled in humanitarian considerations and cannot provide us with the willing semi-skilled labor needed to care for the elderly at various stages of aging.
  • The prevalence of "chronic illness" among the baby-boomers is driving up the cost of medication beyond our ability to pay.
  • We cannot build new nursing homes and other elderly care facilities fast enough to properly house this "tidal wave" of elderly.
  • With the emergence of "two income" families, at home care has become less and less of an option for working families.

Solution

Need will force solutions. Human ingenuity will not despair. But as long as solutions lag behind this compounding problem, care for the elderly will continue to suffer. We need to get on with it.

 

Read more under Elderly/Aging Long Term Care

 

Topics: Elderly/Aging Long Term Care

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