A recent report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found that the number of potential family caregivers is shrinking at a time when the population of older adults who likely need such support is growing rapidly. The report notes that in 2011 at least 17.7 million people in the United States were family caregivers of someone over 65. But they predict that the number of available family caregivers will be shrinking in coming years, because the size of American families continues to decline due to lower fertility and higher rates of childlessness, divorce, and people never marrying. In addition, since women are traditionally more likely to serve as caregivers, the increasing proportion of women in the workforce should also make them less available for caregiving.
This is particularly concerning because the need for caregiving will continue to rise for the foreseeable future. The percentage of older adults who are expected to need such services is expected to increase from 27 percent in 2012 to 37 percent by 2050.
The report also notes that since family caregivers are likely to receive little to no training on providing care, this group has higher rates of depression symptoms, anxiety, stress, and emotional difficulties.
In order to cope with this situation, it was recommended that a National Family Caregiver Strategy be created and implemented by the US Department of Health and Human Services in cooperation with other relevant organizations.
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Families Caring for an Aging America. https://www.nap.edu/catalog/23606/families-caring-for-an-aging-america. Accessed January 25, 2017.