The home medical care industry will face a shortage of caregivers as aging baby boomers attempt to stay in their homes. The lack of qualified workers, ever increasing costs and a huge shift in demographics has America facing a major crisis. There aren’t going to be sufficient numbers of geriatric staff to make certain seniors are okay when they can no longer care for themselves.
It’s a problem that not many families anticipated but one that many will have to face. It frequently becomes evident that falls, lapses of memory and a number of maladies has taken a toll on elderly relatives and some may need help. There is also a tidal wave of baby boomers that are being diagnosed now with some form of dementia.
“We are absolutely in a crisis mode. Providers are routinely reporting that they can’t recruit and they can’t retain direct care workers, which makes it impossible to provide the care that consumers need.” said Robert Espinoza, vice president of policy for the New York-based Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, a direct care workforce research organization.
At times professional caregivers complement family caregivers and they are the primary choice for supporting seniors in the daily activities of life, such as eating, dressing and bathing. Over fifty percent of home caregivers only have a high school education or less, according to PHI, and the pay they receive is about equal to wages received by fast-food and retail workers. With the new push to give fast food workers $15.00 an hour the wage gap between the two could widen and cause more care aids to opt for flipping burgers. The working conditions can be very, very trying when they can go a few doors down the street to McDonald’s and make just as much if not more money. Employers now struggle to hire and keep home health care workers, who make a median hourly wage of $10.49 per hour, or about $13,800 per year, according to PHI. Two thirds of caregivers work part time.
However their wages might grow appreciably in the next few years due to the fact that the U.S. population is rapidly aging. About 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day, according to the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan think tank based in Washington, D.C. Over half of them will need some type of long-term care eventually, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2016.
There are many nursing homes and assisted living facilities, but more and more seniors are looking to remain in their own homes as they grow older. You can’t replace the feeling of living in the home you might have lived in for decades and possibly raised your children in. We just completed a first floor addition for this reason and it will enable us to stay in our house longer.
The demand for personal caregivers is already more than the present supply some experts say. A real good reason for this is that we’re seeing an increased demand for home health care workers is a societal shift from putting seniors in a “home” and having them grow older in their own homes.
For many families, trying to navigate the maze of state regulated home care service agencies to locate the right caregiver won’t be easy, and it will be very expensive. The cost of home health care has increased over 6 percent just last year, according to a report published by Genworth Financial, a Virginia-based firm that sells long-term care insurance. That is 6 times the rate of inflation.
Consumers pay a national average of $22 an hour for home caregiver services, or over $49,000 a year, according to the report, which is based on studies with over 15,000 service providers.
Health insurance and Medicare do not completely cover these costs and while Medicaid does help cover care giver costs for seniors with chronic conditions who meet certain income requirements, most seniors do not qualify.
Home healthcare is one of the fastest growing occupations in the U.S., with the labor force expanding to 1.6 million over the last 10 years and another 600,000 jobs anticipated to be added over the next decade, according to PHI, the direct care research organization.
Low wages, a lack of training and isolation are a part of the cause for a significant turnover among caregivers and the ongoing shortage of workers for the industry. But maybe the hardest aspect of the job for many is not low wages but caring for patients when the relationship invariably comes to an end.