As a recent Forbes article points out, there is another cliff looming for many Americans that isn’t commonly talked about. Apart from the so-called fiscal cliff that faces Congress, there is an eldercare cliff that faces many Americans as the baby boomer generation gets older and retires in record numbers.
Elder care involves anyone who provides assistance to elderly people because of conditions related to age. Much of the elder care provided in the country is done so by nonprofessional friends and family of elderly people. These unpaid eldercare workers provide countless hours in assisting the elderly with everything from household chores to transportation and healthcare.
It’s estimated that over the next 40 years, the number of people age 65 or older will increase by 135%. By 2050, about 20% of the overall population will be age 65 or older. If current caregiver statistics maintain their same numbers by that time, it means almost 100 million Americans will provide some kind of unpaid eldercare services by then.
There will also be a significant change in the ratio of people between the ages of 16 to 64 to those aged 65 and over. Today, that ratio is 5.1, meaning there are 5.1 nonelderly adults to every single elderly adults in the country. By 2050, that ratio will shrink to less than three.
This means that there will be a lot more elderly people to take care of, and a lot fewer people who are available to do it. This looming eldercare cliff is inevitable, and one that poses serious potential problems.