NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 27, 2010

In an aging population, the elderly are increasingly being taken care of by the elderly.  Professional caregivers -- almost all of them women -- are one of the fastest-growing segments of the American work force, and also one of the grayest, says the New York Times. 

According to findings from a study carried out by PHI National, a nonprofit organization that advocates on behalf of caregivers: 

  • In 2008, 28 percent of home care aides were over age 55, compared with 18 percent of women in the overall work force.
  • It is projected that from 2008 to 2018, the number of direct care workers, which includes those in nursing homes, will grow to 4.3 million from 3.2 million.
  • The percentage of older caregivers is projected to grow to 30 percent from 22 percent.  

The average caregiver in Rhode Island from Home Instead Senior Care, a private agency, is about 60, says Valerie Topp, chief operating officer for the state franchise.  Younger aides often do not work out, Topp says, adding that clients frequently ask that the agency not send over someone too young. 

"The older ones came to us after being family caregivers, so they understood the stresses that families were under," Topp says.  "They came with respect for age.  They didn't see age as a disability." 

Source: John Leland, "A Graying Population, a Graying Work Force," New York Times, April 24, 2010. 

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