It may only be January, but there is already an indication that 2015 will be an important year for older adults and their families in the U.S. For starters, this year marks the 80th anniversary of Social Security and the 50th anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act, the first federal initiative focused on providing comprehensive services for older adults.
This year also brings us the national White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA), a once-a-decade conference in which the policy framework for older adults is outlined for the next 10 years. The WHCOA is expected to address issues such as healthy aging, long term services/support, retirement security, and elder justice.
The conference couldn’t come at a better time. A Census Bureau report projection estimates that in 2050, seniors will make up over 20.9% of the population. This number seems even more dramatic when you consider that in 1900, older adults only comprised 4.1% of the population.
Indeed, now is the time to act on providing better care and quality of life for older Americans, especially when you factor in the rising cost of elder care.
In 2010, citizens age 65+ spent an average of $18,424 per person on personal health care. According to a 2014 study in the journal Health Affairs, this is about three times more than the average working adult and five times more than the average child. Additionally, the cost of caring for elders struggling with dementia is expected to rise substantially, with the price of Alzheimer’s care alone possibly growing to $1 trillion annually.
Relevantly enough, President Obama actually addressed these demanding costs in a 2015 tax break proposal in the State of the Union. The package would include a tax credit for two-worker married couples, citing the increasing costs of elder care that’s challenging American families.
As people in the U.S. continue leading longer lives than previous generations, it’s imperative that we take action towards giving them the best quality of life possible. Whether you’re making decisions on behalf of a grandparent, parent, or yourself, it’s a wise idea to start including elder care in your considerations.