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Who will care for aging baby boomers?

An AARP report found that baby boomers will face a shortage of caregivers by the year 2030.
An AARP report found that baby boomers will face a shortage of caregivers by the year 2030.
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Americans are facing a huge shortage of caregivers for older and disabled people in the coming decades, according to a new report released Monday by AARP. The problem stems from a variety of factors, including the large number of baby boomers who are living longer, and have had relatively fewer children than earlier generations. The abundance of baby boomers – people born between 1946 and 1964 –means many of them are able to take care of their aging parents or ailing family members.

But according to AARP’s report, within the next 20 years, when boomers hit their 80s and need help of their own, there won’t be enough hands available. Consider these sobering findings: In 2010, there were 7.2 potential caregivers (ages 45-64 or the average age of caregivers) for every person age 80-plus. In 2030, that caregiver ratio will drop to 4 to 1 and by 2050, when all boomers will be in late life, the ratio becomes less than 3 to 1. In 2050, there will be three times as many people age 80-plus as there are today. In other words, counting on your family to provide long-term care is probably unrealistic in the future. And most people can’t afford paid caregivers.

So who will care for the baby boomers when they need it? Knowing that we’ll have fewer caregivers and more people who want to stay home for long-term care, how can we do a better job of providing that?


Donald Redfoot, Senior Strategic Policy Advisor with AARP's Public Policy Institute and lead author of the report “The Aging of the Baby Boom and the Growing Care Gap: A Look at Future Declines in the Availability of Family Caregivers”

Kathleen Kelly, Executive Director, Family Caregiver Alliance