It's All in the Family: How Baby Boomers Will Meet Their Long-Term Care Needs

    • October 6, 2009

From 2003 to 2007, Richard Johnson, PhD, and researchers from the Urban Institute and RTI International examined the impact of the changing structure of families on long-term care. Specifically, they analyzed how demographic and economic trends will affect the number of older people in the future who need care, the availability of family caregivers and the use of paid care.

This project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) national program Changes in Health Care Financing and Organization (HCFO). HCFO supports policy analysis, research, evaluation and demonstration projects that provide public and private decision leaders with usable and timely information on health care policy and financing issues.

Key Findings

  • The researchers reported the following findings:

    • Frail older adults are one of the most vulnerable groups in the nation. Disproportionately female, widowed and in their 80s and 90s, most older people with disabilities living outside of nursing homes have little education and limited financial resources. Providing help can overwhelm caregivers.
    • Even under the most optimistic scenarios, long-term care burdens on families and institutions will increase substantially in the coming decades. If disability rates decrease steadily and substantially over time, between 2000 and 2040:
      • The number of older adults using paid home care will increase by three-fourths.
      • The number of older adults in nursing homes will increase by two-thirds.
      • Total paid home care hours will more than triple.