The Post-Star recently published a story with the provocative headline: “Old Age is Coming, and We Are Not Ready.”
The article touches on some practical issues in New York state that have often been discussed in the wake of the national demographic shift that is already underway. As most know, the population is aging. But far fewer give serious consideration to what these means for those seniors (and society as a whole). The coming of old age has two main questions: (1) Do we have the appropriate quantity of services to provide the care necessary for all seniors in need in future years? (2) If not, how are we going to come up with the resources to acquire those services?
Minimal Senior Care Services
The story notes that about ten thousand Baby Boomers turn 65 and reach the traditional retirement age each and every day. In the New York state counties of Washington and Warren, those over 65 account for about one-third of the entire population. The trends are similar throughout the state and country.
Many of those seniors will eventually need extra care for daily tasks, perhaps including nursing home stays. But do we have enough beds in nursing facilities to account for the change? Right now, most experts on the issue do not believe that there is anywhere near sufficient supply to meet the coming demand. This is fueling a burst in private investment in elder care resources (like nursing homes) in New York. Nationwide the long-term care industry grew by 31% over the last five years–the trend is expected to continue in the next five.
But many worry that there still may be problems in the future. That is because not only is the Baby Boomer generation far larger than the generations before and after it, but with advances in medicine, that generation is living longer. In the not-too-distant past, retiring at age 65 often only came with a few years of retirement, on average. But today, both men and women live over 75 years on average, with many living much longer. While longevity is a good thing, it comes with clear concerns about supply of care for seniors and finances to pay for that care.
The bottom line: It remains unclear how public bodies will respond to the looming senior care challenges. That makes it in every individual’s best interest to take matters into their own hands and ensure plans are in place to provide for their own well-being no matter what the future holds. That may include contacting an elder law attorney and ensuring access to NY Medicaid services.