American women 45 to 65 years of age report that they are frighteningly unprepared for old age.
In a study released today by Volunteers of America, women 45 to 65 years of age report that they are frighteningly unprepared for old age, financially, legally or emotionally. Many of these women also find themselves having to care for an aging parent and 48% of these caregivers report that the economic downturn has made the role of caregiver more difficult.
"We have a potential catastrophe looming with the collision of a significant, and growing, aging population, the economic downturn, and the health care crisis," stated Rosemarie Rae, executive vice president with Volunteers of America. The first baby boomers will reach 65 next year, with more than 71.5 million Americans in the 65 or older age bracket by 2030. This will be the largest senior population in U.S. history and almost double the approximately 37 million seniors today. "This is a large, emerging crisis in America," added Rae.
"Medicare already pays out more in benefits than it brings in and will be insolvent by 2017," Rae continued. "Social security will pay out more than it collects beginning in 2016 and the system as a whole will be insolvent by 2037." Medicaid statistics are equally alarming. In order to qualify, most people must bankrupt themselves before they can receive long-term care coverage.
"We are hopeful that healthcare reform will begin to shape this discussion and mitigate the negative impacts of the current system," added Rae.
The Volunteers of America study also reported that an overwhelming majority - 97% of women and 94% of men - believe that the elderly should be allowed to age at home, if they want to. Almost half of the women surveyed expect that they will be called upon to provide care to an older family member at some point in the future and more than 54% stated that it is not likely that they will be able to care for the family member.
A majority of those interviewed reported that they were unable to make financial, career or family sacrifices in order to care for an older family member. More than 65% stated that they would be unable to take time off of work to care for an elderly loved one, and 86% of women interviewed and 81% of men agreed that better workplace policies are needed to meet family obligations to help aging family members.
Only about half of those interviewed have done any preparation for their own aging. In addition to not having financial stability, many have not entered into discussions with family members about how they should be cared for. Most have not talked to their doctor about aging issues and more than 50% do not have a power of attorney and/or will in place.
Volunteers of America has spent more than a century anticipating and adapting to the needs of the most vulnerable citizens. In preparation for the growing health care demands associated with an unprecedented rising number of aging individuals, Volunteers of America commissioned a study (conducted by Lake Research/American Viewpoint) to determine the most challenging issues facing Americans regarding care giving and aging. The findings from the study have validated Volunteers of America's Aging with Options initiative, which provides an integrated care and support system for older Americans and their caregivers.
Volunteers of America identified four primary challenge areas faced by aging women and their caretakers: economic issues, desire for independence, workplace flexibility, and lack of preparation.
The complete study is available at www.volunteersofamerica.org.
Volunteers of America is a national, nonprofit, faith-based organization dedicated to helping those in need live healthy, safe and productive lives. Since 1896, our ministry of service has supported and empowered America's most vulnerable groups, including seniors, people with disabilities, at-risk youth, men and women returning from prison, homeless individuals and families, those recovering from addictions and many others. Through hundreds of human service programs, including housing and healthcare, Volunteers of America helps more than 2 million people in over 400 communities. We offer a variety of services for older Americans, in particular, that allow them to maintain their independence and quality of life - everything from an occasional helping hand to full-time care. Our work touches the mind, body, heart and ultimately the spirit of those we serve, integrating our deep compassion with highly effective programs and services. For more information about Volunteers of America, visit www.VolunteersofAmerica.org.
Lake Research Partners, in partnership with American Viewpoint, surveyed 1,200 adults ages 45 and older nationwide, with an oversample of 250 adults ages 45-65 who provide care to an elder family member. The survey was conducted by telephone April 7-14, 2010. The sample was stratified by gender and geographically to reflect the population. The margin of error for the base is +/- 2.8%; the margin of error for the oversample of caregivers is +/- 4.4%.