Would a National Caregiving Strategy Help Support an Aging Population?

October 8th, 2016 | Posted by admin in Uncategorized

A new report has found that as the U.S. population ages, the need for caregivers will grow. A proactive strategy today is essential for addressing this trend.

According to a recent report commissioned by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM), the next generation of older adults may create new pressures for the caregiving community. As such, a nationwide strategy that addresses possible gaps in care and outline solutions may be required. 

A looming issue
According to the NASEM findings, in less than 15 years, the number of U.S. residents 65 years or older will be 72.8 million. This will represent greater than 20 percent of the American population. At the same time, the portion of seniors in need of care for several consecutive years is also likely to climb.

At present, about 7.7 percent of working-age adults serve as a caregiver to an older adult. Already this represents a gap in coverage, although it does not include the many caregivers working in assisted living communities. The report concluded that because there is likely to be a large shortage of caregivers in the U.S., a nationwide effort among public and private entities is necessary. 

"Supporting family caregivers should be an integral part of the nation's collective responsibility in caring for its older adult population," said Richard Schulz, the director of the University Center for Social and Urban Research at the University of Pittsburgh and an author of the NASEM report. The editorial board of Pittsburgh's largest newspaper argued the caregiver gap is "the new national health care problem."

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The need for a strategy
Congress has been prompted to act about supporting older adults. AARP stated that 50 organizations nationwide have voiced support for the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage Family Caregivers Act. This is a continuation of a previous piece of legislation, the Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (RAISE) Act, which outlines rules for coordination among health care professionals and caregivers.

The RAISE Act would set in motion a national effort to support caregivers. An advisory board would collaborate with private and public officials working closely with older adults to identify actions that communities, healthcare providers and government agencies could take to aid an aging population.

Greater visibility to the impending caregiver shortage could bring in new job candidates and strengthen financial structures to ensure needs are fully met. At the same time, employers and government groups such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services could begin to create new programs and initiatives to make caregiving services more affordable and available in the coming decades. 

Source: Sunrise Senior Living

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