As if worrying about Social Security insolvency wasn’t bad enough — is it or isn’t it? — a new survey suggests that aging baby boomers may not have the caregiving help they will need in their later years.

The study, by the AARP and the Public Policy Institute, found a precipitous drop in the ratio of caregivers to those needing help, from 7.2 to 1 in 2010 to 2.9 to 1 by the year 2050.

“More than two-thirds of Americans believe they will be able to rely on their families to meet their needs when they need long-term care,” Lynn Feinberg, an AARP senior policy analyst and co-author of the report, told the Los Angeles Times. “But this confidence is likely to deflate when it collides with the dramatically shrinking availability of family caregivers in the future.”

The problem is one of math: The baby boomers form a population bubble, and as they age, the smaller younger generations will pick up a higher proportion of their care. That helps explain why the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics picks home aides as among the fastest-growing occupations. But even that increase is not going to keep up with the demand, the AARP says.

The AARP report includes policy suggestions from attendees at a 2011 forum on the issue. They recommend fresh guidelines aimed at creating greater public education and awareness; more financial relief; better communication, coordination and collaboration with health care professionals; and a focus on supporting family caregivers, as they’re called, in policy initiatives.

—Posted by Scott Martelle.

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