America’s elders will be left on their own pretty soon. Over 10,000 Americans turn 65 each day. The elderly are becoming a larger portion of our population, and the supply of caregivers can’t keep up. Learn about the caregiver shortage and what you can do to help with this blog.
The Caregiving Industry Is in Crisis
The perfect storm has hit the caregiving industry:
The elderly population is growing exponentially
The pandemic is turning people away from nursing homes
Return-to-work policies are forcing personal caregivers away from their elderly family members
These factors have combined to create an extreme shortage of workers in the caregiver industry. Up to 53 million personal caregivers will be forced to find in-home support for their family members. The industry isn’t equipped to meet that level of demand.
This explosion in the elderly population is already being dubbed the gray tsunami. There are currently seven caregivers available for each American over 80 years old. This number is expected to shrink down to 4 by 2030 and 3 by 2050. The caregiver industry is in dire straits.
Why the Shortage of Home Care Workers Matters
Caregivers are crucial for maintaining the elderly or disabled population in any society. Many people don’t have the ability to do things that we consider routine. Caregiver responsibilities typically include:
Basic Need Assistance
Mobility and Transportation Assistance
Without caretakers, elderly and disabled members of society won’t get the level of care that they need, which lowers their quality of life.
Let’s zero in on caretaker responsibilities that demonstrate why they’re so critical:
33% of adults aged 90 or older suffer from dementia. This illness could cause them to take the wrong amount of medication or the wrong medication entirely. Mixing medications in the wrong quantities can be extremely dangerous. Medications have dangerous effects when not taken exactly as prescribed, and caregivers make sure that the elderly aren’t creating dangerous drug combinations.
Elderly Americans or people with disabilities aren’t always equipped to monitor their medication intake, especially when they’re given huge quantities of it. Elderly Americans already have to juggle dozens of medications, and dementia or other mental disorders may make them completely unequipped to handle that task.
Research has established strong links between loneliness and conditions like:
High Blood Pressure
Weakened Immune Systems
The caregiving industry does more than take care of physical needs. Humans are wired to be social, and caregivers make sure that the elderly are getting the social interaction they need. Social interaction helps older adults stay mentally present and engaged in their lives.
Older adults are especially vulnerable to social isolation because their friends, family, and spouses often pass away before them. The caregiver shortage affects more than the physical health of the elderly—it affects their mental wellbeing too.
Elders struggle to move around on their own. Things that we take for granted like a flight of stairs, bathroom trip, or car ride could be insurmountable tasks for them. Caregivers are responsible for fulfilling the home health care and mobility needs of elderly citizens.
Outside of in-house mobility, caregivers assist the elderly when they want to take a trip somewhere. Studies show that getting out of the house regularly increases elderly citizens’ lifespans. The shortage of home care workers means that older citizens will spend more time alone in their homes and less time out. This isolation will affect their mental and physical health.
How You Can Help With the Caregiver Shortage
The best way to address the caregiver shortage is by becoming a caregiver. The caregiver shortage means that everyone in the industry will be taking all the help they can get. Regardless of if you’re interested in working with home health agencies or more general home care services, you’ll be able to find a role.
How Do You Choose the Right Home Caregiver To Work For?
Becoming an in-home caregiver right now is incredibly important. Elderly and disabled Americans are getting less help every year. The main difficulty in becoming a caregiver is choosing the right company to work for. Consider these factors to determine if a home care provider is worth partnering with:
Competitive Wages and Benefits
While most people become caregivers because it’s a socially important and fulfilling job, you do need to make a living. Make sure that the company you join offers competitive pay. The caregiver shortage means that jobs are going to be in demand. We anticipate that pay for experienced caregivers will be substantially higher within the next few years. Outside of pay, look at a company’s benefits. A company with great pay but poor benefits probably isn’t worth partnering with.
A Good Cause
The best homecare providers are doing it for the right reasons. Many providers are in the business because they think it’s easy to take advantage of elderly citizens who don’t know better. Partner with a homecare provider that has a genuine belief in what they’re doing and is dedicated to empathetic, high-quality service.
If you’re looking for a caregiver provider with an absolute commitment to service, partner with AVCC. AVCC helps Veterans and their surviving spouses get the home care they deserve while dealing with the red tape around the VA. Veterans shouldn’t struggle to get the benefits that they’ve earned.
A healthy body is a healthy mind. Physical activity is one of the best ways to boost your mental health. Regular exercise creates better sleep, reduces physical pain, and boosts energy. People assume that exercise has to be an intensive process, but any movement is better than none. Exercise can be as simple as:
Every bit helps. Caregiving can be exhausting, but simple exercises are still worth incorporating into your daily life. Exercise gets easier every time you do it too, because you’re getting better and boosting your overall energy. This is one of the most important steps in self care for caregivers. Take control of your health and start exercising today.
Seek Professional Help
When all else fails, consider professional counseling or therapy services. People are commonly trapped by negative thought cycles that are extremely difficult to get out of alone.
Even if you think you can handle it on your own, it’s worth seeing a mental health professional. A professional will help you every step of the way and make sure you get the care you need.