Michigan will need an additional 34,000 home health aides by 2026 to meet the needs of a growing senior population, according to data collected by the Area Agency on Aging 1-B (AAA 1-B). The 65-plus population in the U.S. is expected to double from 49 million in 2016 to 98 million in 2060, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
AAA 1-B works with local home care agencies to provide care to participants in its in-home care programs. These home care agencies, and their employees, play a critical role in helping older adults stay living independently in a community setting. They provide essential, non-medical in-home care, which might include helping a person to bathe, light housekeeping, or picking up groceries. It’s hard work that requires a compassionate touch.
Unfortunately, a healthy economy and rising wages have made it harder for home care agencies to find workers. Home health agencies are competing for workers who can now sometimes earn a higher hourly wage in the retail and fast food industries.
The challenges are even bigger when trying to find aides to work in rural areas, which have the highest concentration of seniors, according to Future Directions for the Demography of Aging, a report released in 2018 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and supported by the National Institute of Aging. The drives between clients are longer, which means wear and tear on a car and higher gasoline costs.
Older adults want to stay living at home and paid caregivers play an essential and valuable role in helping them do that. Many thanks to WDIV for helping to illuminate this growing problem.