Much has been made of the aging of the 'baby boomers' and the potential demands they will make on our nation's long-term care system. But a new report from the AARP's Public Policy Institute, 'Before the Boom: Trends in Long-Term Care Supportive Services for Older Americans With Disabilities,' predicts that over the next 20 to 30 years demand for long-term care'”especially the kind of care provided in nursing homes'”will grow only slightly, if at all.
The report forecasts that the baby boomers' need for long-term care services will not be a significant factor until after 2030, when the oldest boomers begin turning 85. Until that time, the demand for long-term care services will level off due to a number of trends, the report's authors say. For example, there will be a demographic shift to the 'younger old' over the next two decades, older persons are increasingly healthier than earlier generations, and the shift away from nursing homes and towards less restrictive alternatives like assisted living facilities and home care will continue.
The authors predict that these and other trends should create a much more consumer-driven market that will demand services that enhance consumer control, autonomy and dignity. They warn that public policy (Medicaid and Medicare) will have to adapt to these changing trends. The report concludes that the next 20 to 30 years, during which demand for long-term care should remain steady, are a 'window of opportunity' to make needed changes in the long-term care system before the boomers begin lining up in earnest for services.
For more on the report or to download it, go to: http://research.aarp.org/health/2002_15_trends.html