There is a tsunami of people who need more support than ever.
People are living longer and thanks to medical advances, more medical services are happening in the community where people live rather than in a hospital or other facility. The number of seniors is expected to reach 98 million by 2060. [[i]] More individuals are aging in place alone, distant from extended family, and therefore don’t have the traditional family support more common a generation ago. Individuals still prefer to live independently at home for as long as possible.
The trend in nursing home placement is reversing. Individuals are living in their communities with much more complex medical issues in an effort to maintain as normal a life as possible. Gone are the golden days of retiring comfortably with a pension and benefits. The typical cost of nursing home care in 2016 was $82,000, more than three times the annual income of most seniors.[[ii]] These factors mean it is difficult for seniors to meet basic needs or receive the care and help they need without supplemental programs, family caregivers and other advocacy.
Our current population of seniors are much more economically at risk. Under the official poverty measure, 4.7 million adults ages 65 and older lived in poverty in 2017 (9.2%), but that number increases to 7.2 million (14.1%) based on the Supplemental Poverty Measure[[iii]]. There is a greater need to support this growing group of people – baby boomers at retirement and beyond, and it is taxing an outdated system.
Senior care is expensive and there are costs to families and caregivers in terms of lost wages, impact on career, caregiver burnout and issues disproportionally affect women. “The MetLife report said that for the typical woman, the lost wages due to dropping out of the labor force because of adult caregiving responsibilities averages nearly $143,000. That figure reflects the wages lost while not working — typically for about five years — as well as lower wages after returning to the workforce with rusty skills. When foregone pension and Social Security benefits are counted, the out-of-pocket losses roughly double.”[[iv]] This financial impact to families, in turn impacts the communities where these individuals live.
It is the goal of the Hairston Foundation to connect this growing population of at risk seniors, as well as caregivers, with the services and supports to help them age in place with dignity and with the ability to meet basic human needs, including adequate nutrition, acts of daily living, a safe and adapted living environment, and quality human connections.