If you’re interested in how we care for aging people in California (or in the U.S., for that matter), you should definitely take a look at the latest set of briefs from the Eldercare Workforce Alliance.
Must-see Data on Family Caregiving in California
“Family caregivers in California— all 4,020,000 of them—provided more than 3,850 million hours of unpaid care in 2009. The estimated economic value of California family caregivers’ unpaid contributions in 2009 was approximately $47 billion.”
“Nationally, 46% of family caregivers performed medical/nursing tasks for care recipients with multiple chronic physical and cognitive conditions.”
Yes, you read that right. 4 million Californians are providing unpaid care worth $47 billion. And many family caregivers are performing medical/nursing tasks. (This is why I have a Geriatrics for Caregivers blog over at drkernisan.net.)
Other highlights from this California eldercare workforce brief:
- Population aged 65+ expected to be 8,288,241 by 2030.
- Compare this to a population aged 65+ of 4,246,514 in 2010, so we are talking about a 95% increase (!)
- “Direct-care workers” provide 70-80% of the paid hands on care to older adults or those with chronic disabilities.
- This kind of work is a quickly-growing occupation, however a shortage of direct-care workers is anticipated.
- California projected to need an additional 2813 geriatricians between now and 2030.
- We had 739 certified geriatricians in 2011. Our current shortfall is estimated at 1081. (However, this brief doesn’t explain how the right ratio of geriatricians to older adults is calculated.)
- By 2030, the ratio of “potential family caregivers aged 45-64 for every person aged 80+” is likely to decline to 4.4 to 1
- In 2010 this ratio was 7.7 to 1.
What this all means
- We should be teaching geriatrics to family caregivers. They are providing a lot of medical and nursing care, so they need training in how to adapt healthcare to “what happens as people get older.”
- Just as we teach patients about their health condition, and how to care for themselves, we can and should teach family caregivers about geriatrics.
- The goal is not to turn them into geriatricians or clinicians. The goal is to give them the knowledge and tools so that they can effectively help an aging adult with all the “self-healthcare” that is usually required. Also, if they know where to focus their energies, this might relieve a little bit of stress and anxiety for them.
- We really need tech tools to help us implement geriatric care. These reports highlight just how many people are involved in health and healthcare for an older adult. They also note that much of this care is delivered to people with multiple chronic conditions.
- We have historically relied on family caregivers to provide a lot of care to aging adults. Since fewer family caregivers will be available for each older person, we really need tools that allow everyone involved to do more with a given amount of time or energy.
- We also need tools that address family caregivers’ needs for support and relief.
- Innovators should be careful about developing a tech tool that is not usable by people with “the things that come up as people age.” I started this blog in large part because so many tech tools I come across seem not designed for people who have:
- multiple chronic conditions
- chronic physical impairments
- chronic cognitive impairments
- a caregiver often involved.