Editorial

Aging baby boomer population strains home health system

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Many who were in the sandwich generation a few years ago are now finding themselves as the top slice of bread, but the filling is a little thin.

Baby boomers who once supported their aging parents and growing children are finding fewer people to fill the former role for them.

About 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 every day, and more than half of them will need some sort of long-term care.

McCook is blessed with assisted living and nursing home facilities, but here and elsewhere, more and more seniors are looking to remain in their homes as they age.

Becoming a family caregiver is a viable option for workers who may have a high school education or less, on a par with wages for fast-food and retail workers.

The problem is, the supply of personal caregivers isnít keeping up with the demand for help with daily activities such as bathing, dressing and eating.

As a result of supply and demand, the cost of home health care rose more than 6 percent last year, and consumers paid a national median rate of $22 an hour for caregiver services, or more than $49,000 a year, based on surveys of more than 15,000 nursing homes, assisted living facilities, adult day health facilities and home care providers.

Standard health insurance and Medicare donít cover those costs, and while Medicaid helps those who qualify, less than 8 percent of Americans have purchased long-term care insurance.

As a result, home health care can easily drain a life savings.

For someone with limited academic credentials, however, home care is a viable career option, with 600,000 more jobs projected to be added over the next decade.

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