I have to be honest. I had never heard of “elder support ratio” until reading an article on The Post Star.  I normally just call it short-staffing. Low staffing also results in higher fatigue and burnout, physically and mentally, and lowers the quality of care and the safety and well-being of the residents.

The elder support ratio — which compares the number of 18-to-64-year-olds who can provide services to those 64 and older — had changed drastically in the last century. In 1900 it was 13.6 to 1, but by 1960 the number of eligible providers had been cut in half. In 2014 the ratio was 4.3 to 1, and by 2030 it is projected to be 2.8 to 1.

This shortage is only going to get more severe as more members of the baby boomer generation — those born between 1946 and 1964 — continue to retire. While 35.1 million Americans turned 65 and became eligible for Medicare in 2000, it is projected 69.7 million Americans will reach that in 2030.

The article emphasizes that “nursing homes are in a race against time to find staff as the “elder support ratio” is getting increasingly lopsided. These facilities are facing understaffing as more and more members of the baby boomer generation are reaching retirement age.”

Many areas of the country claim there is a worker shortage.  But the truth is that if they paid the caregivers a reasonable living wage plenty of people would apply because the work is very satisfying when the employees are treated well.

Some people claim that health care is a “niche” profession and that elder care is even more niche. It requires a lot of work for low wages, not just anyone can do it. But for those with a passion for it, it can be a rewarding career.

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