Long-Term Care by the Numbers

Thanks to advances in public health and medicine, Americans are enjoying longer, healthier lives. Yet this increased longevity has created a challenge for caregivers as the number of people requiring long-term health care increases and the number of health care workers declines.

As the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee discusses future healthcare workforce issues tomorrow, it should address the escalating crisis in long-term care. There is good news for the future: We can fix the system before the elderly population quadruples by 2050. But it’s going to take work. Here’s a by-the-numbers look at long-term health care.

 

The Current State of Care

34 million: Number of elderly Americans
12 million: Number of elderly Americans who require long-term care
20 percent: Percentage of the Americans who need long-term care but do not receive it 

 

An Escalating Crisis

34 million: Number of elderly Americans in 2007
80 million: Number of elderly Americans by 2050

12 million: Number of elderly requiring long-term care in 2007
27 million: Estimated number requiring long-term care by 2050

 

The Current State of Caregiving

80 percent: Percentage of long-term care provided by unpaid caregivers
14 percent: Percentage of long-term care provided by both paid and unpaid caregivers
8 percent: Percentage of long-term care provided exclusively by paid caregivers

60 percent: Percentage of long-term care providers also employed in the paid workforce
20 million: Number of U.S. employees with aging, ailing parents

42 percent: Percentage of long-term care providers over the age of 50
90 percent: Percentage of caregivers who are female
25 percent: Percentage of caregivers without health insurance

$43,400: The national median income
$37,000: The median annual income of caregiver households

 

A Wake-Up Call for Employers

$300 billion: Estimated value of the free labor provided by family caregivers
$34 billion: Amount that U.S. employers lose each year due to absenteeism and workday interruptions from full-time employees who serve as caregivers

6 percent: Percentage of employers with written policies about elder care
76 percent: Percentage of firms claiming to offer help on a case-by-case basis
1 percent: Percentage of firms actually subsidizing any elder care

 

The Current State of Paid Caregivers

6 percent: Percentage of nurses trained abroad in 1998
14 percent: Percentage of nurses trained abroad in 2005

26 percent: Percentage drop in the number of U.S. nursing school graduates from 1995 to 2000

The United States needs to act now—before the aging population quadruples in the next half century—to reform long-term care for the elderly. By focusing on ethical principles to reform the benefits given to caregivers and facilities in which the elderly are treated, the challenges of increasing longevity and vitality can be met.

For more information, see: