Technology for Caregivers

A new focus on technology for caregivers is generating a wide range of interesting tools and services for this long-neglected market.

The inaugural HLTH conference in Las Vegas included several discussions on the aging-in-place trend, and how (for the most part) family caregivers will continue to shoulder the bulk of elder caregiving roles.

A panel at HLTH discussed new approaches to caring for the aging population in the U.S., which is the largest and fastest-growing segment of the country’s population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of individuals age 65 and older is expected to nearly double from 2012 to 2050, and those older than age 85 will more than triple during that same period.

The Growing Caregiver Burden

More than 34 million Americans are caregivers to older adults according to AARP, and more than 16 million are caregivers to people living with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia, based on a recent report from the Alzheimer’s Association.

With the escalating care service costs described below, options for assisted living, full time home health aides, and memory care facilities will be financially out of reach for many.

A typical family caregiver to a senior is an adult child (median age ~50), who works close to full time, and is also raising a family of her/his own. Time limitations and financial constraints are a constant worry for this caregiver demographic.

Assisted Living Becomes Unaffordable

Genworth provides a cost of care prediction tool that highlights the escalating cost of senior care services. This snapshot of care costs in the year 2037 includes a very optimistic assumption that senior care costs will increase by only 3% each year:

Assisted living facilities can vary widely in the type of medical care provided. Many residents in assisted living also require home health assistance, which will bring the cost in 2037 to at least $160,000 per year.

With increasing longevity and decreasing catastrophic illness, assisted living can stretch into a decade or more, which will require $1.5 million or more for a studio or one bedroom apartment that includes light housekeeping and three meals a day.

We’re facing a reality that assisted living and related 24×7 senior care services will quickly become out of reach for most of the middle class in the U.S. and other countries.

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