To accommodate the huge projected increase in older adults requiring care over the next several decades, we must train many more senior care professionals. But this is not yet happening. In fact, just the opposite: The U.S. is expecting a serious and worsening shortage of healthcare providers for seniors.
For example, according to the American Geriatrics Society, there was just one geriatrician for every 5,000 seniors in 2010. Over the next 20 years, that ratio will decline to one geriatrician for every 7,600 older adults.
More immediately, we will be short almost 1 million home care workers in 2017, a grave risk considering seniors’ strong preference for aging at home.
How should Washington respond? One solution would be to use federal subsidies to stimulate private-sector jobs. For example, the government could:
- Offer low-interest loans for medical and nursing students who specialize in geriatrics
- Provide subsidies to expand medical and nursing school programs for training geriatric specialists
- Grant tax credits for graduates who pledge to work in underserved regions of the country
- Grant tax credits for long-term care insurance policies that cover affordable options like home care
- Create a Senior Corps similar to the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps
Learn more about key public policy issues and initiatives you can support to help increase the world’s capacity to care.