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Baby Boomers and Long-Term Care

Today, billions of dollars worth of care is provided without charge by families whose members give up time and money to willingly help their loved ones. But many of the baby boomers won't have these kinds of helpers, and may ultimately demand their fellow taxpayers foot the bill for hiring caregivers. Millions of boomers won't have spouses or children to rely on when they become infirm and struggle to stay out of nursing homes.

Nearly three quarters of baby boomers and seniors are concerned either a great deal or a fair amount about paying for long-term care, according to a poll commissioned by the Academy's Study Panel on Long-Term Care. Seven in ten believe that government should do more to help people meet the costs of long-term care.

According to The Economic Status of the Elderly (Academy Medicare Brief No. 4), “More baby boomers are likely to be living alone in old age compared to their parents, for three reasons. First, more of the baby boomers have never married. Nearly 10 percent of the youngest baby boomers (born between 1956 and 1964) are forecast never to have married by ages 55 to 64, which is twice the rate of their parents. Second, more of those who did marry will become divorced or widowed by the time they reach ages 55 to 64—25 to 30 percent of them compared to 15 to 20 percent of prior cohorts. Finally, childlessness is on the rise. In 1989, 26 percent of couples aged 25 to 34 had no children, compared to only 12 percent of such couples in 1959. These trends will result in increase in the percent of older Americans living alone, from 21 percent of those age 63 to 72 today, to 24 percent of those 10 years younger, to 37 percent of the early baby boomers.”

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