Support for seniors is crucial to the health and wellbeing of our country, but while you’re doing your best to serve the seniors of today, are you anticipating and preparing for the seniors of tomorrow?
Let’s take a brief look at the NIC’s “Forgotten Middle” Study and what it means for the caregiving industry as a whole.
Why is There a Care Gap?
Assisted living communities are a popular destination for seniors who desire healthcare, physical, and emotional support, but these communities can be so expensive that only medium/high-income seniors can afford them. On the other hand, state and federal programs that are designed to support seniors with their medication and housing, such as Medicaid and Medicare, are only applicable to seniors with a limited income and assets.
This creates a significant care gap where seniors have few available options if they cannot afford an assisted living community but are too wealthy to qualify for government programs. This gap encompasses almost 8 million seniors and is only expected to grow in the next decade.
While the number of “care gap” seniors is expected to double over the next decade from 7.9 million to 14.4 million, the demographic makeup of this group is expected to change as well.
Future groups of seniors are expected to be more educated, due to a lower high school dropout rate and a larger number of college and university graduates. This will create positive effects, causing fewer seniors to live in poverty, but will also increase this care gap and cause a greater need for ancillary services.
Another part of the care gap demographic that will change is the number of family caregivers available. Currently, 1 in 4 seniors who stay at home require the aid of a loved one for medical or financial reasons, but these family members will be growing older as well and, with America’s declining birth rate, these caregivers will be in need of support themselves soon enough.
Health Status and Needs
Health conditions like obesity, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes are expected to increase in frequency with the rising elderly population, potentially growing the number of middle-income seniors with high-need conditions to all-time highs.
These conditions, among others, can have an impact on a senior’s mobility and independence, meaning proper care communities and supports will become necessary for a significant portion of the middle-income population.
What We Can Do to Help
Although this study might make readers uncomfortable and inform us of troubling situations that we may face later in life, it also provides possible solutions and methods to support our aging population.
Providing services and suites at a lower price can make assisted living communities more affordable to middle-income seniors. Similarly, including family members and caregivers in the community’s operations can improve resident morale and increase services available to members of the community.
Thinking about what the future holds for our communities can be daunting, but it can also present a distinct opportunity for senior living developers, investors, operators and brokers. Give our team a call at 800-425-9914 today or visit us online to see how you can invest in this natural progression early and improve the lives of seniors in your area.