For generations, Americans have relied on family members to keep aging loved ones in their homes. But in a recent article, titled America Is Running Out of Family Caregivers, Just When It Needs Them Most, Wall Street Journal reporter Clare Ansberry found that today many Americans are growing older without family nearby, offering a glimpse of what the future may hold for the cohort of Americans who are approaching retirement.
“Families have fewer children, older adults are more likely to have never married or to be divorced and adult children often live far from their parents or may be caring for more than one adult or their own children,” she quoted from a 2016 study by the National Academy of Sciences.
The private sector isn’t an option for many older adults who need care, wrote Ansberry, because demand for private home health aides is expected to exceed supply by more than three million in the next decade. Many can’t afford it even if it was available, since a full-time home-health aide can cost, on average, $49,000 a year, according to a 2017 Cost of Care Survey by Genworth.
“Public support hasn’t kept pace either,” commented Ansberry. “Medicare and other government programs provide a fraction of the long-term supportive services that people need to remain in their own homes. Medicare generally doesn’t pay for long-term care stays in nursing homes, which can cost close to $100,000 a year for a private room.”
“We’re going to have to look to nontraditional care,” she quoted Ken Dychtwald, CEO of Age Wave, a consulting firm. Older adults, he said, may have to take in boarders, who can help with shopping and repairs, or rely more on monitoring devices and delivery services.