New York Elder Care: Seniors Caring for Other Seniors

The looming (or on-going) senior care “crisis” has many New York families worried. The population is aging, in need of more care, and there is no agreement on who will provide that care or pay for it. The demographic details are repeated so often that it is becoming cliche to reiterate how the percentage of the population over 65 year old (and over 80 years old) is growing steadily. In other words, there are not just more seniors, but there are fewer young adults.

Filling the Ranks
Interestingly, some elder care advocates are noticing a unique trend among the caregivers–they are aging as well. Other seniors are stepping up to fill the void, taking care of individuals with more physical ailments than themselves. As a Star Tribune story on the subject quipped, “The new face of America’s network of caregivers is increasingly wrinkled.”

A New York advocacy group, the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, reported recently that in few years nearly 30% of the caregiving workforce will themselves be over 55 years old. This represents a 22 percent increase from only a few years ago. In fact, that age group (over 55) already constitutes the largest age bracket for all direct-care workers.

The graying workforce is due in large part to need–there simply are not enough available younger caregivers to provide the necessary support. But, many are quick to point out that older caregivers should not be viewed as a forced liability. Instead, elder caregivers can use their age to their advantage, often able to better connect to their clients. Caregivers who themselves have decades of life experiences, shared memories, and an understanding of physical decline are often able to quickly relate to those in their care and provide compassionate, individual support.

Looking to the future, it is clear that these trends will continue if for no other reason than there are few other options. Elder caregiving jobs have a notoriously high turnover rate, and agencies are required to spend considerable time on recruitment and retention. As a result, they are turning to many who may not have direct past experience in the profession, including other seniors.

For help ensuring you have access to the best long-term care possible if or when the time comes, please contact our New York elder law attorneys today. The high turnover rate and challenges related to finding quality caregivers make it particularly imperative to plan ahead. Rushing into the situation without the financial resources to secure adequate support is often the root cause of elder abuse and neglect.

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