[This is a guest post from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University.]
People are now living longer than ever before. This trend is most likely a result of health advancements throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. The treatment of heart disease and infectious diseases as well as immunizations have contributed to longer lives. By 2050, people ages 65 and older will make up more than 20 percent of the U.S population. Also by 2050, all living baby boomers will be over 85 years old. However, a growth in the aging population does not necessarily mean an increase in healthy aging. Aging comes with a need for long-term care, help with daily activities, and financial assistance. These needs increase for people older than 85. The growing aging population presents a new set of challenges for health care professionals and policymakers. But primarily, it will be seniors and their caregivers who must cope with the physical, emotional, and financial ramifications of aging.
Most people want to remain in their homes as they age. As a result, the demand for caregivers is expected to grow in the coming years. Currently, there are not enough caregivers to meet this demand. Many professional caregivers are underpaid and undertrained. Family members often have no training at all. As the percentage of seniors living in skilled-nursing facilities decreases, the role of caregivers will become even more important to the overall health of the aging population.
MPH@GW, the online Master of Public Health offered through the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University, created the following infographic to help explain the economic implications of a growing aging population in the U.S. for older Americans, their families, and professional caregivers.