Around 21.3%, or one in five Americans, are caregivers looking after an adult or child with special needs. In addition, it is expected that an aging population will exert tremendous pressure on the demand for caregivers. By 2030, a shortage of over 100,000 caregivers for older people is anticipated. Unfortunately, paid caregiving jobs are not well remunerated, making them unattractive career options. On the other hand, the aging population also offers opportunities for caregivers, creating millions of jobs for those who are supporting the elderly in whatever capacity.
Thanks to advances in medicine and medical interventions, people are living longer. However, according to the Association of Retired Persons, around 50% of people over 65 years will require long-term care. There are several options for elderly care, such as going to an assisted-living facility or nursing home, or hiring an in-home caregiver. Alas, there is a scarcity of carers who can look after seniors.
Given the shrinking supply of adult carers in the US, it is critical to attract people to take this up as a career option. One way to fill the gap is to increase the intake of overseas carers, providing they have a caretaker visa. Looking beyond the shores of the US for people who are willing to provide care to the elderly is a viable alternative to increase the pool of workers. Outside of the country, there are many people who are qualified to look after mature people. In fact, immigrants represented more than 18% of healthcare workers in 2017, including unauthorized wage earners caring for the elderly.
The ceiling given by the government to curb immigration rates is not helping the situation. As US birth rates are falling, the American population is aging fast. With the cap restricting immigration to focus on skilled or professional workers, the caregiver category is not going to get the supply of labor it needs.
In the meantime, families are expected to perform care duties to the elderly or disabled adults. Sadly, the toll of caregiving also affects the mental wellbeing of individuals who look after loved ones. Without policy changes such as making salaries attractive for caregivers or allowing more immigrants to work as carers, it is expected that the deficit in labor supply of workers in the formal and informal healthcare sector will continue.
America’s aging population is putting a strain on the supply of health workers. Without changes in policies and immigration quotas, there will not be enough people to care for the elderly.