Projected Caregiver Shortage Cause for Concern
Many reliable sources are predicting a caregiver shortage that will reach critical levels within the next decade. As the older adult population grows to its highest numbers historically, there will be a shortage of people working in the personal care professions. While unpaid (and paid) family members do make up a portion of senior caregivers, paid workers dominate the field in home health and facility care. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which lists occupation growth projections from 2012 through 2022, personal care aide is the number one job at 580,800 new positions. At number four is home health aides (424,200), followed by nursing assistants (312,200) at number six.
That’s encouraging news for those working in the eldercare sector, but there is concern about filling those projected openings for several reasons. Many of the jobs providing direct care services for seniors are low-paying with long hours with very few, if any benefits, and high risk for injury from lifting and transporting patients. Due to these factors, there isn’t much stability in the work force, which will contribute to the shortage. According to other indicators, the unpredictable future of Medicare and Medicaid funding and payment structures will also heavily impact direct care service providers. Because most of the services being provided are paid by these government entities, it’s difficult to gauge how wages will be affected.
While families will continue to care for older adults for financial and personal reasons, the public direct care work sector will need to fill the gaps resulting from an aging population. This is an issue with a broad scope – affecting individuals, healthcare, government and the economy. Experts, especially those in eldercare, are challenged with coming up with viable solutions for this pending shortage.
What are your ideas for addressing this shortage?
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