We keep hearing the foreboding statistics: 10,000 baby boomers in the United States turn 65 every day; our aging population is expected to double in the next 20 years and swell to 88 million by 2050; 75 percent of Americans over 65 live with multiple chronic health conditions, ranging from diabetes to dementia.
It is no secret, either, that the nation's already-strained health-care system is trying to keep sick and longer-living seniors out of hospitals, assisted-living facilities and nursing homes and instead in their own homes, which is where they want to live out their golden years. But that has shifted the caregiving burden onto family members, who are increasingly stressed and often supplemented by personal-care aides (also referred to as certified nurse assistants, personal-care assistants or home health aides) employed by thousands of home-care agencies across the country. Nurses and other skilled practitioners manage in-home medical needs, such as administering medications and wound care, while the personal-care aides cook, shop, clean, bathe, dress and generally offer companionship.
The U.S. spent an estimated $103 billion on home health care last year, a number predicted to reach at least $173 billion by 2026, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which put total health expenditures in 2018 at about $3.67 trillion. CMS, veterans programs and private health insurance cover a portion of in-home care, although the estimated value of unpaid care provided by family caregivers added an astounding $470 billion to the mix, according to a 2016 report by AARP — not to mention the drain on family budgets and seniors' nest eggs.
Looking to alleviate these daunting financial burdens, lawmakers in several states, including California, Arizona, Wisconsin and Rhode Island, have proposed providing state income tax credits for families that need help with home caregiving.