April 01, 2013

Elderly Care: A Growing Need for the Nation

The United States is getting older. The combined factors of a growing elderly population, a lower projected level of birth and net international migration are causes for concern.  This trend is not only alarming for the nation, but also becomes a matter of significance to employers who continue losing worker productivity due to time taken off to care for aging parents.

There are currently nearly 10 million adults responsible for the care of an aging parent.  This aging group has increased significantly over the past 15 years, and as per our calculation and most recent data available, currently 13.28% of the total United States population is above 65 years of age,

Out of the total social security paid benefits of 44.79 million above 62 years of age, 22.04 million belongs to the age group of 70-80, 17.33 million are in the age range of 62-69 and 5.43 million are more than 85 years of age.

Similarly, with social security payouts, the age group of 62-70 accounts for $13.51 billion, the age group of 70-80 accounts for $14.64 billion, and the age group over 80 accounts for $9.52 billion. 

This data makes it obvious that the maximum number of aging parents requiring care is in the age group of 70 to 80. 

Gail Hunt, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Caregiving, says that companies are incurring a cost of up to $34 billion a year due to caregiver absenteeism and other issues directly affecting worker productivity.

Breaking Down Elderly Caregiving

To further investigate this issue, we attempted to analyze the aging population and caregiving population by various segments. After some careful examination on different population breakups, we discovered some interesting facts: 

       1.Females contribute more time than men to elderly care

Elderly care

       2.Full-time working employees contribute more time to elderly care than part-time employees

total hours

       3.The age group contributing most to elderly care is that of 45 to 54 years

Elderly care

       4.White and Black women scored higher than Hispanic and Latino women in percentage of caregiving

black or american

       5.Those workers with higher qualifications contribute more to elderly care

High School Graduates

       6.States with the highest population of 65+ age of male employees

male age above or 65

       7.States with the highest population of 65+ age of female employees


       8.Female aged population by state

population estimates female

       9.Male aged population by state

population estimates Male

From the Baby Boomer’s Perspective

The oldest among the Baby Boomers entered into retirement in 2011, and the youngest will retire in 2029. The current population of the Baby Boomer generation is 76.4 million, which is approximately 25% of the total U.S. population.

Thus, by 2030 America will have a large population of elderly people ranging from 65 to 84 Years. This huge population will definitely require increased attention to elderly care.

As per a survey by NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey), only 13.2% of boomers rated their own health as “excellent”, compared with 32% of those in older generations. Nearly 7% of boomers were using a “walking assist device”, 13.5% had a functional limitation of some kind and 13.8% were limited at work. For the previous generation, those figures were only 3.3%, 8.8% and 10.1% respectively.

As such, this large population who compared to their predecessors have lower overall health (including increased rates of obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and hypercholesterolemia) will most likely require increased intensive elderly care, resulting in higher health care costs and time.

From the Employer’s Perspective

As per a 2011 survey of employers by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the percentage of employers offering eldercare programs dropped from 22% in 2007 to 9% in 2011. Similarly, access to eldercare back-up services also reduced from 4% to 2%. Fewer benefits were offered to employee caregivers, with most leave benefits consisting of unpaid family leave and FMLA leave.

Meanwhile, many employees are concerned about revealing family issues in the workplace, and claimed to not need the services that were offered.

However, the few employers who have implemented some form of an eldercare program n their organization reported significant direct benefits including:

  • Reduction in absenteeism
  • Retention of employees
  • Inclusive culture with the sense of family being part of the company
  • Work-life balance
  • Improved productivity
  • Reduction of the stress of caregiving