COVID-19 Arrives Amid Silver Tsunami

Silver Tsunami

Aging baby boomers are nudging the national median age up by 1.2 years, according to a report released recently by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The nation’s 65 and older population grew by 34.2% during the past decade, according to the bureau. The growth was driven by baby boomers who were born between 1946 and 1964. The aging of this group contributed to an increase in the national median age from 37.2 years in 2010 to 38.4 years in 2019, according to the report.

“The first baby boomers reached 65 years old in 2011,” said Luke Rogers, Ph.D., chief of the Census Bureau’s Population Estimates branch. “Since then, there’s been a rapid increase in the size of the 65-and-older population, which grew by over a third since 2010. No other age group saw such a fast increase.”

And it’s amid the coronavirus pandemic 

The largest percentage of deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. have come from nursing homes or assisted-living facilities. The statistics reinforce every senior’s desire to remain at home in his or her final years, which is only possible if you have the resources to afford home care or if you have long-term care insurance. 

Adding to the challenge is a shortage of home caregivers. Demand for home care has been rising in recent years as older Americans prefer to age in place. COVID-19 has increased the desire for home care.

But finding home care isn’t always easy, partly because of a labor shortage. Nationally, there are 2.3 million home caregivers providing care to about 4.7 million seniors and adults with disabilities, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance. Within six years the home care industry will need about 4.2 million jobs nationally to meet projected demand, according to research conducted before the pandemic.

Currently, the national hourly cost of home care is just under $24 per hour. Most home care agencies require four-hour minimums. Today, that would be $96 per day. By 2040, hourly rates are projected to reach $43 per hour or $172 for a four-hour minimum. 

Do you have a plan?

Three questions can help you to define a plan for long-term care:

If you needed care, where would you want to receive care?

Most of us want to remain in our own homes, but is this realistic? Is it the best venue given care needs and home maintenance tasks?

Other care venues might include living with a family member, a group or residential home, continuing care retirement community, assisted living community or nursing home.

If you needed care, who would you want to provide my care?

Often we hear, my spouse or partner or kids. But will your spouse still be living if you need care? Will he/she be healthy enough to provide care? Do you know if he/she would really want to be your hands-on caregiver? These are important discussions to have. 

Other options might include a sibling or family member or friend or paid caregiver.

If you needed care, how would you pay for care?

If you can afford to self-fund, is that really what you want to do with your money? How would self-funding care impact the standard of living of other family members and effect other financial commitments you’ve made? 

Other options might include reverse mortgage, family pays for care, qualify for Medicaid, private insurance or family pays for private insurance. 

The looming cost of long-term care for aging baby boomers will be huge for all of us — our families, our states and our country.