AARP warns of looming, enormous shortage of caregivers

Tara Bahrampour

WASHINGTON -- Americans should expect an enormous shortage in caregivers for older people in the coming decades, with a dearth of friends and family members available to care for the baby-boom generation as it ages, according to a report released Monday by the AARP.

The report, "The Aging of the Baby Boom and the Growing Care Gap," projects that by 2050 when boomers are between 86 and 104, there will be fewer than three potential caregivers available for each older person. The "2030 problem," as researchers define it, stems from a combination of factors, including the large number of baby boomers, the fact that boomers had relatively fewer children than earlier generations, and increased longevity.

In 2010, the United States had 78 million baby boomers, or people born between 1946 and 1964. About 60 million will still be alive by 2030 and about 20 million by 2050, according to projections AARP used from REMI, a company that does economic modeling.

There are 42.1 million adults in the United States caring for friends or family members. Nearly two-thirds of those caregivers are women, and more than 80 percent of the people they care for are over 50, according to the report. But two decades from now, there will be far fewer of these caregivers available, and more need for them.

"It's a wake-up call for aging boomers," said Lynn Feinberg, a senior strategic policy adviser at the AARP Public Policy Institute and an author of the report. "We're really moving toward an uncertain future, as ... relying on our family and friends to provide long-term care isn't going to be realistic anymore."

The Washington Post